Sugar Free Blackberries: Save freezer space by canning your favorite berries in water only! Use em in smoothies, on top of yogurt, in cobblers and pies all year long | Bringing Design Home

Sugar Free Blackberries: Canning with Grandpa

Grandpa and I have an on going love/hate relationship when it comes to the blackberry bushes on his 180 acres of land. It seems the blackberries have been planning a field take over for years and he’s constantly trying to slow down their progress by plowing em down with the tractor, spraying em, and even using sheep and goats to ward off their their attack. Although he’s won many battles, as he’s grown older, it’s gotten harder to win the war. I’m sure once Cale and I start maintaining some of the land ourselves we’ll have a good reality check when it comes to the battle over the blackberries, but until then… I love them soooooo much!

I love blackberries on top of yogurt, ice cream, in cobbler and pies, and even just plain in a big ole bowl filled to the brim! Every summer I count down the days and pray for rain till early July so that the berries are perfectly plump. Grandpa still doesn’t get my love for a fruit that only produces 2-3 weeks out of the entire year, but he enjoys watching me spend hours and hours holding back the cuss words as I reach in past the thorns and pluck out the most beautiful blackberries you could ever imagine!

For free I might add!

If you’ve ever been blackberry picking you know they definitely take some work. You have to dress up in long pants and long shirts in the heat of the summer. You also have to watch out for ticks, snakes, and bees, but other then that… they are so worth it! :) At least for me, I like that they take some work. It makes you truly appreciate each and every berry. Plus the scratches from the thorny bushes and stained purple fingers are mere battle wounds when it comes to the fresh flavor of hand-picked berries!

It’s true, I horde blackberries in the summertime like a squirrel collects acorns for the winter, and preserving my precious (insert Gollum/Smeagol Voice) berries is exactly what inspired this Sugar Free Blackberry Canning Recipe!

For me, its important to find canning recipes that are as flexible as possible when it comes to how I can apply my preserves to main dishes and desserts. This Home Canned Sugar Free Blackberry Recipe gives you just that! It cans plain ole whole berries in water only–not sweetened in a syrup–that you can then apply to any recipe. You can always add in a sweetness later, but you can’t take it out! Canning berries in water allows you to add sweetener to taste just before serving.

Picking fresh blackberries is a lot of work and finding ways to preserve them long after the summer months is what makes it all worth it! I’ve always struggled with freezing my berries because they Inevitability get mushy, take forever to thaw, and seem to bitter in taste from the cold temperatures. Canning your berries not only saves freezer space, but you can easily scoop out as many cups as needed without having to wait for the whole package to thaw. The Ball Canning Guide states that canning your berries in a sugar mixture helps maintain better color, shape and flavor. My results shown in the images of this post were canned last year. Overall I’ve found canning my fruit in water creates very similar results AND still gives me full freedom to add them to whatever recipe I want.

Plus, you can even use the leftover berry juice from the jar in your favorite summertime spritzer or on top of your morning yogurt!

Canned Sugar Free Blackberries

Yields about 6 Quart Jars
  • 18 cups/9 lbs of blackberries (3 cups per quart jar)
  • 12 cups of water (about 2 cups per jar)


STEP 1: Fill each jar with three cups of berries, or until filled 1/2 inch from the top. Gently shake the jars to pack the blackberries down without smashing them.

STEP 2: Bring a boiling-water caner or large sauce pot, 1/3 of the way full with water, to a simmer (takes about 30 minutes). Next, make a hot bath for the lids by filling a small sauce pan with 1 in of warm water. Keep the small sauce pan on medium-low heat with the lids inside the hot bath until you are ready to seal the jars.

STEP 3: In another sauce pan bring the water to a raging boil.

STEP 4: Ladle hot water into jars, on top of the berries until 1/2 inch from the top. If you run out of water just boil more as needed to fill all your jars.

STEP 5: Remove any air bubbles by moving a wooden or plastic (not metal!) utensil up and down the middle of the jar. Seal with hot lids and apply screw bands.

STEP 6: Process in a water bath for 20 minutes. Remove the canner or sauce pot lid, wait an additional 5 minutes.

STEP 7: Remove and let the jars completely cool and seal for 12-24 hours. If a jar lid still pops up and down when you press on it, after the cooling stage, the jar did not seal properly. Simply place this jar in the fridge and eat first. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.


* The Ball Canning Guide states that preserving berries in water-only will yield a less flavorful result, eventually dull in color overtime, and struggle to hold their original texture and shape. The berries shown in the images of this post were canned last year and I was pleasantly happy with my results. As you can see they have remained plump, purple, and tasty!

** If you are still cautious about your berries spoiling overtime or loosing some of their wonderful qualities I would recommend adding a small amount of sugar to STEP 3. Dissolving a 1 1/8 cup of sugar to every 12 cups of water (or 1/2 cup to every 5 cups of water) creates a ultra-light syrup mixture that will guarantee the best in flavor, texture, and color. ;)

Blackberry season hasn’t fully hit us yet, but we are watching the berries closely as they turn from green to red to black! Last year we had a really wet summer here in Oklahoma so we were able to get four or even five good batches of picking in before the heat burned up the berry patches. Since I’ll probably be right around 40 weeks pregnant when the berries have fully ripened, I don’t plan on doing nearly as much picking as I did last year. My hope is to send Cale out to do some of the dirty work for me! After six years of marriage I’ve found a little cobbler bribery goes a long ways! ;)

Happy picking and canning everyone! You can do it!

From The Farm

Stay tuned for two more canning recipes before the summer is over: Slow Cooker Smoke House Salsa and Canned Three Pepper Jam.

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About meg:

I like curly lines, and the simple joys of life. Good coffee and the perfect souffle.

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High class design in overalls. It's the simple life of a farm through the eyes of a couple of crazy designers. We call ourselves Green Couch Design and we are Bringing Design Home.

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