Canned peaches can be used in so many ways, in upside down cakes, breads, on top of waffles or pancakes, in smoothies, and cooked with chicken or pork. The ideas go on and on. Or just eat them on their own.
Canning peaches is very straightforward and simple. The most popular method is water bath canning. You need peaches that are cling-free (also called freestone), which means that the peach separates easily from the pit. Follow this step-by-step process for canned peaches and you’ll be snacking on this delicious fruit all winter long.
Choosing ripe, mature fruit of ideal quality is very important. The peaches should not be mushy, but they also should not be rock hard. Perfect raw eating condition is the way you want them for canning as well.
Ingredients for canning peaches
Tools used for water bath method
- Water bath canner (a huge pot with a lifting rack)
- Jar grabber (helps for picking up the hot jars)
- Lid lifter (a magnet tool to pick the lids out of the boiling water after they’re sterilized)
- One large pot (to boil about 6-8 peaches at a time in)
- Large spoons and ladles
- Quart canning jars
- Quart jar lids
- Quart jar rings
Sterilize the jars
The dishwasher is fine for sterilizing the jars (use “sanitize cycle” if you have it). Otherwise, put the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Boil the lids in another small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic lid lifter to pull them out. The rings don’t necessarily need to be sanitized, but you can clean them with the lids.
How many peaches
It takes about 5 good sized peaches to fill one quart jar. An average of 18 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts. A “lug” of peaches weighs about 23 pounds and yields about 7-9 quarts.
Ripen the peaches
The peaches need to be fully ripe before canning. If they’re not, they’ll be very hard to pit. Perfect raw eating consistency is the way you want them for canning as well. The peaches should not be mushy or rock hard, they need to be just right. Lay the peaches out in a well-ventilated room on newspapers, to finish ripening. The peaches are ready to can when they begin to soften. You can press your finger at the top of the stem to feel for softness. It may take several days for the peaches to ripen, so be sure the peaches are in a protected space.
Make the syrup
Peaches need to be packed in a solution of water and sugar, or fruit juice. Sugar improves flavor while stabilizing the color, but it is not added as a preservative. We find that the peaches are sweet enough with a “light” syrup. To prepare the syrup, combine water and sugar while gently heating on the stove, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. After preparing the liquid syrup, keep it hot, but not boiling. You’ll need about 1 cup of syrup per quart jar, but this can vary. The chart below will help with your preference of sweetness.
|Light||2 cups||6 cups||7 cups|
|Medium||3 cups||6 cups||6 1/2 cups|
|Heavy||4 cups||6 cups||7 cups|
How to can peaches
1. Prepare the peaches and remove the skins
Always wash the peaches first. Bring a large pot of water to full boil, and then carefully dip the fruit (about 6-8 peaches at a time) in boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the water and place into a large bowl or pot of ice cold water, and cool for several minutes. Once they’re cool enough to handle, slip the skins right off of the fruit. Cut the peach in half; remove the pit. You can cut the peach in quarters if you’d prefer and cut away any mushiness or blemishes.
2. Pack and prepare the canning jars
Place the fruit, pit side down, in the sterilized canning jar. Continue to add peaches until the jars are full, tamping them down as you go to eliminate air. After the jar is packed, pour the sugar solution up to 1/2 inch from the top. If necessary, use a table knife or handle of a spoon to press the peaches to one side, to create a space for the water to trickle down and eliminate any pockets of air that are in the bottom of the jars. The fruit should be covered completely. Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp cloth to remove any stickiness. Add lid and screw band, and tighten firmly, but be careful to not over tighten.
3. Process the sealed canning jars
Place the sealed jars in the canner, keeping them covered with at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a rolling boil, and leave the jars in the hot water bath for 25 minutes.
4. Remove the jars and cool
After boiling (aka processing) the peaches for 25 minutes, use the jar grabber to lift the jars out of the water and set on a table or kitchen counter covered with an old towel. Don’t touch the lids while the jars are cooling. Once the jars are cool, you can remove the rings, or loosen them, so they don’t rust in place due to trapped moisture. Check that they are sealed by gently pressing in the center of the lid with your finger.
If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. Any jars that do not seal, store in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks. Sealed jars will not depress when you push on the middle. The next day, wash the jars with soapy water, and label them. They will last in your pantry for 12 to 18 months.