Can syrup be canned?

Syrup is a thick, viscous liquid that is commonly used as a topping or sweetener. Syrups are made from the sap or juice of plants and trees, like maple, sorghum, and corn. Syrup can be enjoyed immediately after production, but it also has a long history of being canned to preserve it. Canning allows syrup to be shelf stable and retains the flavors and colors of the syrup. There are some special considerations when canning syrup to ensure safety and quality.

Benefits of Canning Syrup

There are several advantages to canning syrup:


Canning allows syrup to be preserved and stored at room temperature. The canning process uses heat to destroy microorganisms that could cause spoilage. This allows the syrup to be stored for up to a year without refrigeration.

Retain Flavor and Color

The canning process preserves the original flavors, aroma, and colors of the syrup. Without canning, these qualities could be lost over time. The sealed canning jars protect the syrup from air exposure.


Canning allows you to customize syrups by adding extra flavors and ingredients. Things like spices, vanilla, citrus zest, herbs, and even liquor can be added before canning to infuse the syrup with unique flavors.


Canned syrup makes a great homemade gift. Canning your own syrup allows you to create personalized flavors that aren’t available in stores. The canned syrup will have a long shelf life, making it perfect for gifting.

Cost Savings

Canning syrup at the peak of freshness can save money compared to purchasing syrup year-round. Making large batches allows you to take advantage of seasonalabundance.

Selecting the Right Syrup for Canning

Not all syrups are well suited for canning. Here are some things to consider when selecting a syrup variety:

Moisture Content

Syrup must have a high enough sugar and low enough water content to prevent microorganism growth. The ideal syrup contains at least 65% sugar. Examples include maple syrup, simple syrup, and fruit syrups like blueberry or cherry. Syrups that are too thin, like sap, will need to be concentrated before canning.

pH Level

The acidity level of syrup impacts how it should be processed for canning. Low acid syrups have a pH above 4.6. They require pressure canning to destroy botulism spores. High acid syrups with a pH below 4.6 can be safely water bath canned. Most fruit syrups fall into the high acid category.


The ingredients in flavored syrups can determine canning safety. Oil based ingredients may not properly heat and seal in jars. Similarly, alcohol content above 10% cannot be safely canned. It’s best to avoid ingredients like extracts, fatty foods, and high proof alcohols.

Choosing Canning Equipment

Canning syrup requires some specialized equipment for a safe, high quality end product:

Jars and Lids

Syrup should be canned in clean mason jars and two-piece canning lids. The jars and lids must have no cracks, chips, dents, or rust. The two-piece lid has a reusable ring and disposable flat lid. Always use new lids and follow the manufacturer’s specifications for tightening ring bands.

Water Bath Canner or Pressure Canner

Syrup can be processed in a water bath canner or pressure canner depending on acidity levels. A water bath canner is a large pot with a lift out rack to submerge sealed jars in hot water. A pressure canner has a locking lid to allow pressurized steam to raise temperatures above boiling. A dial or weighted gauge controls and indicates pressure.

Jar Lifter

This specialized tong-like tool allows you to safely grip hot jars and lower them in and out of the canner. Regular tongs may lead to accidental slipping and breakage.

Canning Rack

This rack fits inside the canner to keep jars elevated off the bottom. Adding a rack prevents jar breakage.

Lid Lifter

A magnetic wand helps safely remove lids from hot jars before filling them with syrup. It prevents burns from handling hot metal lids.

Headspace Measuring Tool

A headspace ruler or jar de-bubbler allows you to ensure the correct headspace between the syrup and the lid. Consistent headspace is vital for creating a strong vacuum seal.

Clean Towels

Have clean towels on hand to wipe rims of filled jars before sealing. This prevents microorganisms from contaminating the headspace.

Step-by-Step Canning Process

Follow these steps for safely canning syrup:

Step 1 – Prepare the Syrup

Start by cooking your syrup recipe. Concentrate it to the appropriate sugar levels if needed. For water bath canning it should contain at least 65% sugar. Do not add thickeners, fats, oils or alcohol over 10% to the syrup.

Step 2 – Sterilize the Jars and Lids

Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. Place upright on a baking sheet and sterilize by heating in a 225°F oven for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes. Keep hot until ready to fill. Simmer new lids in hot water to soften gaskets.

Step 3 – Fill the Jars

Remove jars from oven or water one at a time. Fill each jar with hot syrup, leaving 1⁄4-1⁄2″ of headspace. Use a tool to release any air bubbles. Wipe rim with a clean damp towel. Center lids and tightly screw on bands.

Step 4 – Process the Jars

For a boiling water bath, use a rack and add enough water to cover jars by 1-2 inches. Bring to a boil. Place filled jars in the canner and ensure they are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Process pint jars for 10 minutes once the water has returned to a boil.

For a pressure canner, add 2-3 inches of water to the canner and lower rack and sealed jars into it. Lock the lid and heat on high until the dial gauge reads 11 PSI or the weighted gauge begins to jiggle and rock. Start timing for 10 minutes. When time is up, turn off heat and allow pressure to fully drop before opening lid.

Step 5 – Cool and Store

Remove jars from canner and allow them to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Check that lids have properly sealed by pressing the center. The lid should not pop up and down if properly vacuum sealed. Label jars with contents and canning date. Store in a cool, dark place up to one year. Refrigerate after opening.

Troubleshooting Canning Issues

Even if proper technique is followed, occasionally problems occur. Here are some common issues and ways to prevent them:

Mold Growth

Mold is caused by microorganisms that were not destroyed during canning. Prevent it by sterilizing equipment, thoroughly cleaning jars, maintaining proper acidity levels, and processing for the full recommended time. Discard any jars with mold.


Fermentation is due to yeast growth and carbon dioxide production. It can cause swelling lids, oozing liquid, or off odors. Prevent it by removing air bubbles before lids are sealed, maintaining headspace, and processing adequately to destroy yeasts.

Cloudy Syrup

A cloudy, hazy syrup can be caused by jam pectin or starch. Boil syrup longer before canning to remove cloudiness. Be sure to completely dissolve sugar and do not over boil.


Sugar crystals can form when syrup cools due to oversaturation. It can be avoided by completely dissolving sugar when cooking syrup and not allowing the finished syrup to cool before canning.


Syrup darkening over time is due to caramelization and natural color changes during heating. It does not affect safety or quality. Prevent discoloration by limiting heat exposure during processing. Avoid direct heat on the jars during water bath canning.

How Long Does Canned Syrup Last?

Properly canned syrup stored in cool, dark place will last:

Temperature Pint Jars Quart Jars
Room Temperature 12 months 12 months
Refrigerated 24 months 18 months
Frozen Indefinite Indefinite

Over time, color, flavor, and texture may degrade but the product will remain safe if seals are intact. Discard any jars with broken seals, rust, or signs of spoilage. Once open, syrup should be refrigerated and used within 4-6 months. Frozen syrup may last indefinitely.

Recipes for Canning Syrup

Here are some recommended syrup recipes ideal for canning:

Simple Sugar Syrup

Combine 4 cups white sugar and 2 cups water. Boil for 2-3 minutes to dissolve sugar. Skim off foam. Fill jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. Water bath can pint jars for 10 minutes.

Maple Syrup

Boil pure maple syrup for 5-10 minutes to concentrate flavor. Fill jars leaving 1/4-1/2″ headspace. Water bath can pints for 10 minutes.

Blueberry Syrup

Combine 4 cups fresh blueberries and 1/4 cup water. Crush berries. Simmer for 10 minutes until juicy. Strain out solids and measure 2 cups juice. Combine with 3 cups sugar. Boil for 2 minutes. Fill jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. Water bath can pint jars for 10 minutes.

Cinnamon Apple Syrup

Chop 4 apples and boil in 1 cup water until tender. Mash apples and strain out solids. Measure 2 cups apple juice. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1 sliced lemon, 2 cups sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Discard lemon and cinnamon. Fill jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. Water bath can pint jars for 10 minutes.


With the proper method and care, many types of syrup can be safely canned at home for long term storage. Always use up-to-date tested recipes and follow canning directions precisely. Canning allows you to preserve flavored syrups to enjoy for up to a year while retaining the qualities that make them special. Home canned syrup also makes a thoughtful homemade gift. With a little preparation and practice, you can turn your favorite syrups into shelf-stable items to have on hand anytime.

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