Bring a large canning pot to a boil. Wash your jars thoroughly with soap, and put them into the pot for 2 minutes to sterilize. Do the same with a canning funnel, a spatula, a slotted spoon, a small metal bowl, and a ladle.
Put the jars in a clean, ovenproof pan. To be extra safe, you can put them in a 225°F oven. Leave full pot on stove for processing jars after they've been filled.
Wash lids and rings in hot soapy water. Put the lids in a small pot and bring to a bare simmer. Turn off heat. Put the rings into the sterilized bowl and set aside.
Make your syrup. In a pot, combine water and sugar, adding any flavourings.
*Cook's Tip: Start with 2 1/2 cups (600mL) water. To make thin syrup, add 1 cup (200g) sugar; to make medium syrup, 2 cups (400g) sugar; thick syrup, 3 cups (600g) sugar.
Make your fruit. Meanwhile, prepare your fruit – peel, slice, dice, or stone any fruit, if you like.
*Cook's Tip: You need to fill your jars to near the top with fruit, which works out to 4 cups of prepared fruit per litre jar.
Add fruit to the pot of syrup; there should be enough syrup to cover the fruit by about an inch. If there isn't, quickly add more sugar and water, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Turn heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently so that fruit on the bottom doesn't overcook.
Immediately turn heat down to a bare simmer and cook until fruit is just barely cooked – time will vary, depending on fruit. Cherries, berries, and soft stone fruits like peaches and plums need only 2 minutes; pears and other harder fruits can take up to 15 minutes.
Cherries & berries
Cook for 2 minutes Process for 5 minutes
Peaches, plums, apricots & nectarines
Cook for 2 minutes Process for 10 minutes
Pears & apples
Cook for 15 minutes Process for 40 minutes
Remove jars from oven. Place the funnel on top of a jar, and using the slotted spoon, carefully transfer fruit into jar. I find it easiest to hold a small plate under the spoon to catch drips. Fill jars, placing as much fruit as possible into each one.
With the sterilized ladle, pour the syrup over the fruit, leaving half an inch of headspace. Once the jars are full, gently tap the pan of jars on the countertop to let air bubbles out. Put the lids and rings on, but do not screw rings on tightly.
Process the jars: return the jars to the large pot of water, and bring to a simmer. Keep at a simmer for the allotted processing time.
Cool completely, and check for a seal: the tops of the jars should have popped inward. It's very satisfying to hear the pop-pop-pop of jars sealing after a long day of canning.
Remove the rings for storage.
Fruit will last for one year.