Don’t let your fruit go to waste! Make use of it all with this simple, customizable mixed fruit cocktail for canning recipe. Perfect for end-of-summer fresh fruit, or when you find fruit on sale in season!
When I was a kid, I remember opening up cans full of heavy syrup and fruit cocktail from the store. They were a treat, and I really enjoyed them, but I haven’t had any in a long time as we don’t shop in the canned fruit aisle anymore!
I started wondering, though, could I can my own fruit cocktail? I was happy to find out you can water bath can fruit cocktail right at home. The best part? You get to control the syrup you can it in. No weird high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweetener, no need for massive amounts of sugar… just whatever you’re comfortable with.
Fruit Cocktail Ingredients
You can choose whatever fruit you have sitting around to make your own fruit cocktail. In this particular batch, I had some pineapple, mandarin oranges, red grapes, honey-crisp apples, and a handful of sweet cherries.
You could also use peaches, pears, plums, or your favorite fruit to make this delicious recipe… the sky is the limit on the options.
Other than fruit, you’ll need to make sugar syrup. While technically you can safely can fruit with just water as a liquid, the water tends to pull the flavors of the fruit out. For the best results, I recommend using an extra light syrup which is 1 1/4 cups of sugar in 5 1/2 cups water.
Alternatively, if you want to go sans sugar, you could make the same syrup with honey or even can the fruit cocktail in fruit juice such as pineapple juice, unsweetened apple juice, or white grape juice.
Fruit Cocktail for Canning
Wash jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Place pint jars in a water bath canner and fill them and the canner 2/3rds full of water. Begin heating over medium-high heat to a simmer. Continue simmering while you prepare the fruit and syrup.
Core a pineapple and slice it into 1″ cubes. Peel and core two apples and slice them into 1″ cubes. Wash grapes in cold water and remove from stems, and peel mandarins, removing as much of the white pith as possible, and section them.
Combine the fruit into a large bowl and mix it well. Lastly, wash and remove pits and stems from a handful of cherries and leave them to the side.
In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water, bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, and stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Keep hot while you pack the jars.
Remove the hot jars to a towel-lined counter and pour 1/2 cup of hot syrup into the bottom of each hot jar. Then place 3-4 pitted, sliced cherries into the bottom of each jar. Ladle the fruit mixture into the jars, packing tightly and leaving 1/2″ of headspace. Once packed. ladle more sugar syrup over the top of the packed fruit.
Remove air bubbles and adjust for headspace if necessary. Wipe jar rim with a clean towel dipped in vinegar. Center the lids. Finger tighten the screw bands. Place jars back in the boiling water canner and make sure there is enough water to cover them with at least 1″ of water.
Place lid on the canner and bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat. Process pints at 1,000 feet or below sea level for 20 minutes, adjusting processing time for altitude.
Once processed, remove the lid from the canner and allow the jars to sit an additional 5 minutes before removing them to a towel-lined counter. Check for good seals after 12-24 hours, remove the rings and store in a cool, dark place for up to 18 months.
This easy, homemade fruit cocktail can be canned in a boiling water canner for a customizable, shelf-stable fruit cocktail you can feel good about feeding your family!
- 1 Pineapple Cored and Cubed into 1" Cubes
- 2 Large Apples Peeled, Cored and Cubed into 1" Cubes
- 1 Pound Mandarin Oranges, Peeled and Sectioned
- 1 Pound Grapes, Washed and Removed from Stems
- 1/2 Pound Sweet Cherries, Washed, Stems and Pits Removed
- 1 1/4 cups Sugar (substitute honey)
- 5 Cups Water
- Prepare jars and a boiling water bath canner by washing jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Fill the jars and the canner 2/3rds full of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue simmering while you prepare the fruit and syrup.
- Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Keep hot while you prepare the fruit.
- Wash the grapes and cherries. Remove the stems from the grapes and cherries, and remove the pits from the cherries. Place the grapes in a large bowl, and set the cherries aside.
- Core and cube the pineapple. Peel, core, and cube the apples.
- Peel the mandarins, removing as much of the white pith as possible, and section them.
- Combine all of the fruit, except for the cherries in a large bowl and mix it well.
- Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canner, pour the water directly into the canner, and place the hot jars on a towel-lined counter.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the hot syrup into the bottom of each jar. Then, place 3-4 cherries into each jar.
- Ladle the fruit mixture into the jar, packing tightly and leaving 1/2" of headspace. Carefully ladle more hot syrup over the fruit mixture, remove air bubbles, and adjust for headspace if necessary.
- Wipe the jar rim with a towel dipped in vinegar. Center the lid, finger tighten the screw band.
- Place jars back in the boiling water bath canner, making sure they are covered with at least 1" of water.
- Place the lid on the canner, bring to a rolling boil, and process the jars for 20 minutes, adjusting processing time for altitude if necessary (see notes).
0-1,000 feet 20 Minutes
1,001 - 3,000 feet 25 Minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet 30 Minutes
6,001 feet and above 35 Minutes
*You can change any of the fruit to suit what you have on hand, the process is the same.