How to Home-Can Fresh Blueberries
Canning blueberries is an easy way to preserve all the extra berries you picked from your bushes. Just think about spreading your canned blueberries on a piece of toast during the cold, winter months when you’re wishing for summer. You can use the same canning method for other berries, as well.
The Importance of Safe Blueberry Canning
When you preserve blueberries, the tight vacuum seal on the jars removes oxygen and destroys enzymes. This prevents the growth of yeast, bacteria and mold. Before canning blueberries, huckleberries, elderberries and gooseberries, and other berries that have the same consistency as blueberries, read all the safety instructions that came with your canner. You can also find safe canning information from the USDA.
Supplies for Canning Blueberries
Once you gather the following ingredients and supplies, you can start the canning process. If this is your first time canning, you might think it’s complicated but once you get started, you’ll see how simple it is.
- Fresh blueberries – Determine how many quarts of blueberries you want to make, and then calculate 1.25 pints of blueberries for each quart jar.
- Lemon juice – Either bottled or fresh lemon juice is acceptable. You can also substitute citric acid for the lemon juice.
- Sugar – The amount of sugar you use for canning blueberries is a personal preference. Making a light sugar syrup that has the fewest calories and a natural flavor is three-quarter cup sugar for every 6.25 cups of water. You can also substitute other sweeteners, such as Stevia or Splenda.
- Jar tongs – These are for lifting hot jars out of the water bath.
- Water bath canner
- Quart or pint canning jars with lids
Steps for Canning Berries
Once you decide on how many quarts or pints of blueberries you’d like to can, follow these steps to begin:
- Sanitize the jars and lids – If your dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle, you can wash them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, wash the jars and lids in soapy water, then boil the jars for 10 minutes. Keep them hot until you’re ready to use them. Don’t boil the lids but keep them in warm water to soften the seal.
- Wash the blueberries – Rinse the berries with cold water using a colander. Remove any damaged berries, along with stems and leaves.
- Make the syrup – Add the sugar amount you want to use to water. For 7 quarts of very light syrup, you need 10.5 cups of water to 1.25 cups of sugar. For medium sweetness, mix 8.25 cups of water with 2.25 cups of sugar. Cook the mixture until it forms a syrup.
- Add lemon juice – Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for each quart jar.
- Add blueberries – Fill your jars with blueberries. You can use either hot berries or raw berries.
- Pour syrup over the berries – Pour the syrup to within one-half inch from the top of the jar.
- Screw on the lids – Place the lid on the jar and seal it with the ring.
- Process the jars – Place the jars in a water bath canner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Process quart jars for 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the altitude where you live.
Once you’ve processed the blueberries, use your jar tongs to remove them from the canner. Let them cool and check the lids, making sure the lid is depressed in the center.