Canned Strawberries: How to Make Home-Canned Stratwberries - Easily!!

This month's notes: August 2016: Blueberries have a very brief season usually just 3 or 4 weeks (June in the South, July in the North and August in the far north). Similarly for peaches (July South or August in the North); so, don't miss them: See your state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. And see our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals, such as tomato, corn, peach or blueberry festivals. Organic farms are identified in green!  Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Have fun, eat healthier and better tasting, and save money by picking your own locally grown fruit and vegetables, and then using our easy canning and freezing directions

Organic farms are identified in green!  See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!

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Home-canning strawberries to use later is easy with the directions below. Of course, freezing is superior to retain flavor, and canned strawberries are softer and less flavorful, but if this is the method you need to use, here it is! To can other types of berries, see this page!

Ingredients

  • Strawberries - preferably fresh, but frozen (without syrup) works, too. It takes about 3 pounds of fresh berries to make 1 quart (2 pints) of canned strawberries.
  • Sugar - About 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dry, granulated (table) sugar per quart of prepared berries. You may use other sweeteners, like honey, agave, etc. but I haven't tried them, so the results may not be as good. See this page for honey / sugar substitutions.

Equipment

  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the jar grabber.
  • At least 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • 1 Boiling Water Bath Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $7 per dozen 8 ounce jars including the lids and rings)
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.

Optional stuff:

  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!). The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:

Strawberry Canning Directions

Yield: 1 quart per 3 pounds of fresh strawberries

Step 1 - Pick the berries! (or buy them already picked)

It's fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality ones! See this page for strawberry facts and picking tips

At right is a picture of a typical strawberry field.

I prefer to grow my own; which is really easy - but that does take some space and time and can be challenging.

As mentioned in the Ingredients section; you may use frozen berries (those without syrup or added sugar); which is especially useful if you want to make some strawberry jam in December to give away at Christmas!

Above and at left are strawberries and blackberries that I picked at a pick-your-own farm. If you want to pick your own, here is a list and links to the pick your own farms.

Step 2 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

NOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jam), it's better to sanitize the jars.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.  Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jam.

Step 3 -Wash and hull the fruit!

I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the fruit in plain cold water.

With strawberries you must remove the hulls. (the green leaves attached to the top of the berry)

 

Step 4 - Put the strawberries in a large pot, add sugar

Place the strawberries in a large pot and add 1/2 cup of sugar per quart of strawberries.  Gently stir the berries to coat them with the sugar. If they aren't all evenly coated, add more of the sugar (up to 3/4 cup of sugar per quart of prepared berries)

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6 - Let stand for 6 hours

Let the mixture stand in a cool (40 F to 60F) place for 6 hours.

 

Step 7 - Cook the berries

Cook the mixture at low to medium heat, slowly until the sugar dissolves and the strawberries are hot throughout!

Step 8 - Get the lids warming in hot (but not boiling) water

Lids: put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.

 

 

 

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Step 9 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within ΒΌ-inch of the top, wipe any spilled berries off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put them into the boiling water canner!

 

This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!

Step 10 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 10 minutes,  See the chart below for altitude adjustment to processing times, if you are not in the sea level to 1,000ft above sea level range.

Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the canned berries and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!

 

 

 

Recommended process time for canned strawberries in a boiling water canner.

  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints
or Pints
10min 15 20
Hot Quarts 15min 20 25

Step 11 - Remove and cool the jars - Done!

Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!  Another trick is to keep the uncooked berries or other fruit in the freezer and make and can the jam as needed, so it's always fresh.


Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Canned Strawberries - makes 8 jars, 8 oz each**

Item Quantity Cost in 2009 Source Subtotal
fresh whole berries (strawberries) 10 cups $10.00/gallon Pick your own $12.00
Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings 8 jars $7.50/dozen

Lids alone are about $1.25 per dozen

Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores $5.00
Sweetener - see step 4 4 cups $1.75 Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores $1.75
Total $18.75 total
or about $2.34 per jar

(if you already have the jars, and just need new lids: $1.85 per jar

* pectin use varies - blackberry jam needs very little, raspberry a little more, strawberry the most.

** - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars! Many products are sold in jars that will take the lids and rings for canning. For example, Classico Spaghetti sauce is in quart sized jars that work with Ball and Kerr lids and rings- some authorities do not recommend these, saying they are more prone to break, and while I have found that is true of mayonnaise jars, I have found the Classico spaghetti jars to be pretty sturdy.

 

 

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs
    to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
    - to remove lids from the pot
    of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid
    - disposable - you may only
    use them once
  4. Ring
    - holds the lids on the jar until after
    the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
    - to fill the jars

You can get all of the tools in a kit here:

Ball home canning kit water bath canner

Home Canning Kits

Features:


* All the tools you need for hot waterbath canning - in one comprehensive set!
* Complete with 21 1/2 qt. enameled waterbath canner and "Ball Blue Book" of canning.
* Also includes canning rack, funnel, jar lifter, jar wrencher, bubble freer, tongs and lid lifter.
* A Kitchen Krafts exclusive collection.

This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!