How to can peaches.
Peaches are one of my favorite canned foods, especially during those cold winter months when the snow is blowing against the window, but inside you are just pulling a shortcake out of the oven with an open can of peaches on the side. The best part is that canning peaches is relatively easy! Before you begin you may want to read the basics of canning and also be sure that you have all the right supplies, you will mainly need clean sterilized jars, lids and bands, a boiling-water canner, a funnel, a jar lifter, peaches, sugar and water and some bowls and pots.
This recipe is to make a raw pack vs. a hot pack. A hot pack requires you to cook the peaches in syrup, while a raw pack the syrup and peaches are added together in a jar. I find the latter of the two to be a little bit easier. For a raw pack you can make either a light or medium syrup. I use the Ball Blue Book of preserving recipe to make a light syrup, which is 2 1/4 cups sugar to 5 1/4 cups water, which yields about 6 1/2 cups syrup. The syrup can be prepared before you begin processing your peaches, once it begins to boil you can lower it to a simmer until it is needed.
The first step is to buy your peaches, I usually buy a 1/2 bushel of the biggest peaches I can find, which makes over a dozen pint size jars. There are many different varieties of peaches, I buy the largest because they are easier to peel. Before you begin processing your peaches make sure that they are ripe, otherwise you will have difficulty peeling the skins off. Once your peaches are ripe, wash and drain them.
Next you want to peel the skins off your peaches. Bring a pot of water to a boil and dip your peaches into the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately transfer your peaches into cold water, this will not only help slip the peel off but it will also prevent your fingers from getting burned. I usually have several bowls handy to transfer the peaches from the boiling water to the cold water and for the peels and pits.
Once you put the peaches in cold water the skins should slip right off. If the peaches are too ripe the skins will not come off as easily, which was unfortunately what happened to Sarah and me last weekend. We only canned half of the peaches, the other half I waited a few more days to allow them to ripe more, which helped! After you slip the skins off, cut the peach in half, pit and scrape the cavity to remove any fibrous flesh (I normally skip over that last part).
After your peaches are halved you want to place them in a clean sterilized jar, which is done with boiling water. It is always best to have your jars ready before you begin cutting up the peaches. Pack the peaches with their cavity sides down, layering them into a hot jar. Fill the jar just enough to leave a 1/2 inch headspace from the top. *This is where, if desired, you want to treat your peaches to prevent darkening, which is done so with a commercial ascorbic acid or a mixture of ascorbic and citric acids.
Once the jars are full, ladle the hot syrup (that you prepared earlier) over the peaches, be sure that you preserve your 1/2 inch headspace. After the jar are filled remove any air bubbles, which can be done with a nonmetallic spatula. I normally use a butter knife, but the Ball book recommends not using metal because it may scratch the glass and result in jar breakage, oops.
Are all the air bubble removed? If so now you can put the lids and bands (two-piece cap) on the jars. It is very important to clean the rims of the jars before you put on the two-piece caps, this can easily be done with a towel. Now you are ready to put your canning jars in the boiling-water canner!
Before you put your jars in the boiling-water canner be sure that the water is HOT, otherwise you may risk breaking your jars. After the jars are in the canner make sure that the water is 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars, if it isn’t add hot/boiling water. Once all the cans are inside, process (boil) pint size jars for 25 minutes or 30 minutes for quart size jars.
25 minutes later…Your jars can now be removed, using your jar lifter place the jars on a hot safe area (as you see above I use a towel on top of my counter). As you begin to take the jars out you will hear a popping noise, this is the magic of the two-piece cap sealing your peaches inside. This process is always a little bit of a waiting game, are they going to pop or aren’t they?!? After 12 to 24 hours, be sure to check all the jars to determine if a vacuum seal has formed by gently trying to lift the lid off with your fingertips, if it doesn’t lift the jars can be labelled, I usually write the content and date.
Now you are done and can enjoy your peaches anytime, even in the middle of the winter!!
**Troubleshooting- As you see above my fruit is floating in the jar, which means the fruit is lighter than the syrup. This was the result of unripe fruit, to prevent this from happening be sure your fruit is ripe and firm and pack your fruit as closely as possible without crushing. If that doesn’t work you may need to use a medium syrup and/or change to a hot pack (heating fruit before packing).
We would love to hear about your canning experiences, what you are canning, peach recipes, other tricks and steps you take during canning, or if you have any questions! Let us know at farmhousemag(at)gmail(dot)com or respond below.Follow @farmhousemag