I used to think that it would cost a small fortune in order to can using fruit juice instead of processed sugar, but I’ve been swapping it out for various things the last couple of years and it can actually be done pretty inexpensively.
If you pack your jars as tightly as I do, it really only takes maybe a cup or so of juice to fill up the empty space in a quart jar. Which won’t cost too much if you buy a giant jug of juice, or are just doing small batches. I like to save money on juice and use 100% juice concentrate. You can also save even more money if you buy the concentrate when it’s on sale.
Anyway, when I was canning my peaches this year I decided to try them with a bit of juice and my little taste testers really liked them. You can bottle stone fruit with only water (see source and directions for canning stone fruit here), but I decided to sweeten them a little bit so that they at least somewhat resemble the peaches that I loved to snack on all winter when I was a kid.
For peaches I chose to go with white grape juice because it’s not an overpowering flavor. I just filled up my stock pot with water and then added two cans of the concentrate. This was my “sugar solution” (you can decide what ratios you want here) and I was able to fill 32 quart jars with just the two cans of concentrate. It’s not quite as sweet as I like, so I think that next year I’ll use three cans.
I’ve found that canning with juice, the way I do it, is much cheaper than canning with honey but it is still just as healthy as I’d like our fruits and jellies to be. From experience, just make sure you use enough juice when making jellies/preserves because the whole point of jelly is to be quite sweet (for resources on making preserves, go here).