Easy Canning for Beginners – how to preserve fruit in jars

This post was most recently updated on October 5th, 2021

Are you wanting to learn how to preserve fruit in jars? This method is simple, and easy to do, even for beginners. Read on to learn how to can peaches and other stone fruit at home with minimal equipment. I have grown up without a pressure canner and not knowing what water-bathing is. But I know how to preserve fruit in jars. This is a super easy technique for canning fruit that is great for beginners to learn.

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Stone fruit is one of my favourite things to eat canned . There is nothing quite like opening a bottle of sunshine in the middle of the cold winter!

Overflow method for canning stone fruit (or other fruit)

Below I will show you the overflow canning method for preserving stone fruit – this includes peaches, plums and apricots. Many people prefer not to use the overflow method, but for a high sugar syrup with fruit, it is quite safe.

You can use this exact same method for canning other fruit as well – good options include pears, apples, berries, strawberries, rhubarb and pineapple.

Water bath canning fruit

If you prefer to water-bath (as recommended by the FDA), follow the directions below, but you will need to leave a 1cm/.5inch gap at the top of the jar rather than filling right to the top of the canning jar.

Add your seal as usual then, cover the jars completely with hot or boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes in a large pot that has a rack on the bottom. Remove carefully and allow to cool.

Fruit selection for preserving in jars

Fruit selection is quite key when it comes to canning fruit. You want to choose fruit that is only just ripe. If it is juice-runs-down-your-arm ripe it is going to turn to a squishy mess when you try to can it.

Choose fruit that smells fragrant, but is still firm to the touch. Avoid green fruit, but maybe 24 hours later it will probably be perfect.

Avoid using bruised fruit for canning. Cut the bruised pieces of stone fruit off and keep them and the pits for making stone-fruit vinegar with your leftover fruit syrup .

This recipe uses peaches, but you can choose any fruit that isn’t too mushy for this method. 

What you need to can fruit safely at home

Canning or preserving stone fruit does require a few items that will ensure that your fruit is preserved safely and will last a long time. You will need:

1. Peaches or other fruit

Peaches come in 2 types – free-stone or fixed-stone. Free-stone peaches are much easier to process to preserve as the flesh comes away cleanly from the stone. Other stone fruit that you can use include plums, apricots, cherries, nectarines and plumcots, or you can use this same method for pretty much any fruit that you would like to preserve.

If you prefer to can without sugar, check out these instructions here.

2. Canning jars

Some canning bottles or jars – these are the ones made specifically for preserving fruit at home in, also commonly known as a mason jar.

Preserving jars usually have a two part lid consisting of a seal (the flat metal bit) and a band (the ring). There are many popular brands, but be sure to use a jar that has no chips, cracks and the seals are clean and in good condition.

You can reuse old jam jars and lids, but it is not recommended by many as the seals are only guaranteed to work once. Personally, I have not had a problem reusing old jam jars, but it is up to you to research this yourself.

Choose your jar size to suit your family, I usually do a mix of quart jar and pint jar sizes.

You don’t have to use sterilised jars if you are water bathing, but it is good practice and only takes 10 minutes in the oven while the fruit is heating up anyway. Be sure your jars are clean!

3. A cooking pot

You will need a big pot to cook your fruit and syrup in, be sure it is big enough to fit all your ingredients in, as well as some simmering room so it doesn’t spill over!

4. A canning pot or water bath canner

A large pot or a water bath pot will be needed if you choose to water bath your preserved fruit. It needs to be deep enough to fit your jars in in a single layer, plus room at the top for an inch of extra water, plus simmering space.

5. A canning rack

This is a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot so they don’t explode from the direct heat from the element. These usually come with a water bath canner but can be purchased separately to fit an existing pot that you have.

6. Other handy bits for preserving fruit

A jar lifter so you don’t burn your fingers on a hot jar!

A canning funnel is not totally required, but it does make things MUCH easier!

A sharp knife to cut your fresh fruit before bottling

A slotted spoon to fish your fruit out of the hot syrup

A towel to put your hot jars on to to allow them to cool and vacuum seal

A cloth to wipe any sticky syrup off of the cool sealed jar


Easy Canning for Beginners - Preserving Stone Fruit in Jars the Easy Way

Easy Canning for Beginners - Preserving Stone Fruit in Jars the Easy Way

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Super easy overflow canning method for preserving stone fruit. Step by step instructions for beginners.


  • 20 lb stone fruit - peaches, plums or apricots, 10kg
  • 4 quarts Water, 4 liters
  • 4 cups White Sugar
  • 10 new lids for preserving jars
  • 10 1 quart/1liter preserving jars


  1. Chop up your fruit. Peaches and plums are easiest done if you cut right around the fruit (top to bottom then right around to the top again) then cup the fruit in both hands and twist them apart. Remove the stones and any bruises and set aside to make vinegar.canning stone fruit
  2. In a very big pot place the water and sugar and bring it to the boil.
  3. Heat your oven to 200F/100C. Place your clean dry jars in to heat on a tray or in a dish for 10-12 minutes (no longer or they will crack). When you remove the jars from the oven bring the tray and everything. This makes it easier to move them and reduces the cold shock.
  4. While your jars are heating carefully add all your fruit to the boiling syrup and cook for 10-15 minutes until JUST soft.
  5. Working one jar at a time fill right to the brim with fruit - I like to scoop it out with a slotted spoon.Fill the jars with syrup. Keep the pot on a low simmer while you jar up all your fruit.canning stone fruit
  6. Run a knife down the inside edge of the jar all the way around to release the bubbles.
  7. Top up with more syrup so that the jar is totally full.
  8. Wipe the rim with a clean dry cloth. Place a clean lid and ring on the jar and screw to "finger tip tight" which is as firm as your can tighten it with using just your fingers.
  9. Set aside on a folded towel to cool and move on to the next jar.canning stone fruit
  10. Once the jars are totally cool you can label them and remove the ring to check if they have sealed properly.Any jars that haven't sealed will need to go in the fridge and be used within the week.
  11. You can leave the rings off of the jars. Store at room temperature for up to 2 years. Discard any that develop bulging lids or look or smell wrong (none of these things should happen if you are careful with your sterilisation).
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I love the Ball canning book recipes and instructions combined with my own canners recipe book.


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