You can can plain strawberries on their own, as plain fruit, with or without sugar.
These directions appear in the Ball Blue Book, the Bernardin Guide, and in the Ball / Bernardin Complete.
Note, though, that you may not be overly happy with the quality. Bernardin says in the Bernardin Guide “Strawberries tend to fade and lose flavour when canned”, and this caution is carried over into the Ball / Bernardin Complete Book, which it writes. You can see from the photos on this page that a lot of the strawberry colour has faded during the canning process.
See also: Dehydrating strawberries, Home canning recipes using strawberries
Quantities of strawberries needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
Per litre / quart jar, you will need 1 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 lbs / 4 cups prepped) ripe strawberries
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Water bath or steam canning
Headspace: 2 cm (½ inch)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 10 minutes; litres (quarts) 15 minutes
- sugar (optional)
- Wash strawberries.
- Hull the berries (i.e. remove green caps & stems.)
- Leave whole; don't slice or chop.
- Put in a large pot.
- If using sugar, measure: for each 1 litre / quart of whole berries by volume add 125 to 175 g (½ to ¾ cup / 4 to 6 oz) white sugar. Stir fruit to distribute sugar evenly. Cover pot; let stand in a cool place for 5 to 6 hours.
- If NOT using sugar. See recipe notes.
- Heat pot slowly on a medium-hot burner. Stir frequently. Heat until berries are warm all the way through and, if using sugar, all sugar is dissolved. (No more, you don't want them to break down into syrup or jam).
- Pack strawberries and liquid into heated jars.
- Leave 2 cm (½ inch) headspace.
- Debubble, adjust headspace.
- Top up with clean boiling water from a kettle if insufficient liquid.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Process in a water bath or steam canner.
- Process ½ litre (US pint) jars for 10 minutes; litre (US quart) jars for 15 minutes. Increase time as needed for your altitude.
How to water bath process.
How to steam can.
When water-bath canning or steam canning, you must adjust the processing time for your altitude.
More information about home-canning fruit sugar free in general.
As with all fruit, you may absolutely can strawberries with no sugar. In fact, the Bernardin Guide suggests that you should skip the sugar if you are thinking of using them later in cooking: “For berries to be used for baking recipes, eliminate sugar…..” Bernardin Guide, 2013. Page 39.
If you do the strawberries sugar-free, skip letting them sit with sugar on them (clearly.) You won’t have any juice to get them started in the pan, so Bernardin says instead that you should put in just a bare amount of water to get them started heating “… heat berries with just enough water to prevent sticking.” Bernardin Guide, 2013. Page 39. (at which point they will quickly release their own juices in great quantity, so don’t worry.) We found that about 4 tablespoons of water per 1 kg (2 lbs) of strawberries was enough to do the trick.
Optional: if you are doing sugar free, you could still sweeten with about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of liquid stevia per jar.
Headspace: You can’t boil the strawberries hard during prep or you will end up with jam instead of whole berries. So, there’s a lot of air in them. That means that during processing, they rise to the top of the jars and push liquid out as they rise, and foam. For this reason, we’d recommend considering giving yourself a bit more headspace, perhaps ¾ inch.
Expect the strawberries to float in the jars when done. For aesthetic reasons, you may wish to use shouldered jars rather than straight-sided jars, as the shoulders can help to push them back down in the jars a bit. Even so, you will still get a lot of floating, as you will see in the photos on this page, so winning fall fair prizes with these may be a challenge.
There is no cold pack method provided.
Retaining better colour in storage
You lost a lot of colour in processing, so going into storage in terms of retaining colour you are already working under a handicap. You might want to try a trick usually recommended for sugar-free canning: adding a tidge of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C powder), if you happen to have any on hand, to help retain colour.
You could try ¼ teaspoon per half-litre/pint jar; ½ teaspoon per litre/ quart jar.
This is based on a suggestion from Colorado State University Extension, “If ascorbic acid products are not used in the pretreatment of cut fruit, they may be added to the canning juices or liquids before processing. This will help keep the fruit from darkening during storage. Use ¼ to ½ teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid or 750 to 1,500 mg crushed vitamin C tablets per quart of fruit. Commercial ascorbic and citric acid mixtures [Ed: such as Ball / Bernardin Fruit Fresh] also may be used according to manufacturer’s directions.”  Kendall, P. Canning Fruits. Colorado State University Extension. No. 9.347. June 2013. Accessed March 2015 at https://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09347.html
To know if it works enough for you to bother with the next time, you’d want to treat just a few jars the first time out, keep track of them and compare them with the untreated jars later on down the road.
Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 27.
Strawberries in Syrup. In: Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Page 153.
Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 39.
Nutritional information will vary based on how whether sugar was used or not, and how many went into the jars — per quart / litre jar they estimate 1 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 lbs) can go in.
If you canned them just in pure water, then you could just estimate your nutritional info on the weight of pure strawberries that went into each jar.
Cooking with canning
Make a strawberry salad dressing in the following way. Can plain strawberries in quarter-litre / half-pint / 8 oz jars. To make salad dressing, open, use some or all of the liquid along with the berries, mash, strain (or not). Add good quality wine or other vinegar to taste, along with salt, sweetener and herbs if desired, and perhaps a tablespoon or two of good quality oil. Whatever is not used should be good stored covered in refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze.
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