Questions About Canning Whole Fruit

September 14, 2009(updated on October 3, 2018)

pears from above

I’ve gotten a couple of questions lately about the loss of syrup when canning whole fruit. Here’s the story. From what I’ve found and read, the loss of syrup isn’t a major problem unless the jars loses multiple inches. Ideally, you don’t lose too much in the processing, but sometimes it happens that upon removing the processed jars from the water, some liquid will bubble out as the air escapes (the official word for this loss of liquid is siphoning). However, as long as the jars sealed, you should be okay. You may get some discoloration in the fruit if you wait a long time to eat it, but if you use it in the next few months, you shouldn’t notice any loss in quality.

For next time, try to do a more complete job of removing the air bubbles from your jars before processing. Make sure the sealing compound in your lids is quite soft and tighten the rings more tightly than you typically do. Also check and ensure that your jars are completely covered with water during processing, as low levels can increase the chance of losing the liquid from your jars.

And, if you haven’t figured it out from the picture above, you can also can Seckel pears (the tiny, crispy ones) whole, just like the plums I did a couple of weeks back. The only change I made to the recipe was that I added a couple of teaspoons of powdered ginger to the syrup, for a slightly different flavor profile. I can’t wait to open those babies up!

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15 thoughts on "Questions About Canning Whole Fruit"

  • So… my question about canning whole fruit is how to use them? Will I have to core and seed (sometimes peel) the final product? Doesn’t that make it harder to use? I am considering canning whole crab apples, but then couldn’t decide what I would do with the final product!

    1. Annie, it depends on the fruit you can. The plums I canned whole will probably be cut into chunks and eaten over yogurt. But I don’t mind the minor work that will require on that end, as it means that I didn’t spend hours in my kitchen in the heat of summer, breaking down all the fruit at once. The other thing to note is that the fruit is far easier to slice/core/peel once it’s been processed, as the time in the hot water bath softens it and makes it easier to just slip the skins off. So I actually find it easier to use. That said, I’ve never tried to use canned whole crab apples, so your concern about how to use them is valid, I’m not sure how I’d use those effectively.

  • I’ve also been reading about the siphoning and what you can do to prevent it. I was pressure canning salsa because I didn’t follow an approved recipe. One of the big hints I saw was to not rush the cooling of the jars. So with the pressure canner especially — don’t open it before it is all the way cool. Now this does slow down the whole process. I’ve been leaving my pressure canned jars in the canner a good 2 hours after processing. I can’t remember where I read it, but the siphoning was caused by the rapid air pressure changes.

    Maybe leaving them in a water bath until cooler would also help.

    1. Stephanie, I like the idea of leaving the jars in the water bath for a short time, until the extremes of the heat back down. However, you do have to be careful not to leave them in there too long (I’m talking about jars in a water bath, not in a pressure canner) because the jars to depend on the escaping of heat in order to form a seal. If you let them cool under water for too long, you can prevent that seal from taking place.

    2. I leave my jars in the water until it stops boiling (I only ever do water bath canning). About 10 minutes seems to do it, if I remember correctly.

  • Thank you for answering this question. I followed the recipe you gave for the plums and lost some liquid but still have a good seal. I was concerned, but now I am not. This is my first year of really canning and am learning a lot thanks to your blog.

  • I made pickled whole crab apples once and they were great. You could eat the whole thing [except stems; which I left on to make cute servers]

  • I made pickled plums this afternoon, and I was a little worried because some of the pickling syrup escaped and coloured the canning water a little. the jars are slightly sticky to the touch, but they seem to have sealed alright. I guess the real test is checking them tomorrow, but after reading this I don’t feel nearly as worried. Thanks!

  • Do you still see comments from posts this old?

    Not quite the same, but I just processed a few batches of cucumber pickles (my first!) and now that they have cooled and I removed the rings i noticed that the brine isn’t quite covering the pickles anymore. Is this going to kill me? Should I put them in the fridge or are they safe to put away in the pantry?

    1. It will not kill you. It is actually quite normal to lose a little brine during the boiling water bath process. As long as the seals are good, the jars are safe.

  • I have done a ton of canning and never had this happen! but just canned peach quarters in light syrup and each of the 4 quarts bubbled and leaked like crazy when i removed from the water bath just now. i did bubble the jars before applying lids and left 1/2 headspace and i left them in the canning pot for 5 minutes or so before removing them but maybe the temp change was still just too much? i guess i’ll wait and see if they sealed?
    also now my canning pot has a lot of random peach syrup in it….i guess that probably means I should empty, clean and re-fill it with fresh water before warming the jars for my next batch? or is it fine? I guess peaches and syrup are going to go in them after warming anyways and I can wash them when they’ve processed and cooled….

    1. If they are leaking when you pull them out of the water, put them right back in and let them cool a little longer in the water. Let them cool slowly until you can take the jars out and they don’t start immediately leaking.

      You do want to change the water before using the canner again. You’ll end up with really sticky jars if you keep using that water.