This year, I discovered the bulk food co-op, just in time to pick up the last shipment of peaches. I bought a bushel of them and I canned them for us to enjoy in winter. Canning peaches is super easy, and you don’t need any special equipment (like a pressure canner) other than your typical canning supplies.
Wash your peaches and cut away any blemishes. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil on the stove. Dip the peaches into the boiling water and keep them submerged for about 30-60 seconds. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and plunge them into cool water to stop the cooking. The skins should easily slip off of the flesh. If they don’t, you can just use a vegetable peeler to remove the skins. Save the skins to toss into your compost pile.
Work in batches to peel all of your peaches. The peeled peaches can be kept in a bowl of water with a half cup of lemon juice added to prevent darkening.
Split the peaches in half and remove the pit. If you have freestone peaches, this will be easier than if they are clingstone. Do the best that you can, and remember that perfection is overrated.
While you are peeling and splitting peaches, heat clean jars in a large stockpot or canner with a lid. The jars should be simmering before you try to fill them. Also, your jar lids should be heated in a small pot of simmering water to soften the sealing compound on the underside of the lids. Make sure that you have enough canning jar bands to close up your jars.
I use a sugar syrup to can my peaches. This solution helps the peaches retain their color and shape. However, I use a very light syrup. I use quarts, and for a 6-7 quart batch of peaches, I mix my syrup by the following ratio: 10 1/2 cups of water mixed with 1 1/4 cups of white, granulated sugar. I mix the liquid and bring it to a boil.
Once the syrup is boiling, I lower the stove heat to a simmer. Then I remove the hot jars from the canner one at a time and pack them with raw, halved peaches.
If you are doing this for the first time, please be very careful. Hot sugar syrup can burn you very badly. If you have small kids or pets, make sure they are otherwise occupied out of the kitchen. Even a small drop of hot syrup can give them a nasty burn.
Pour hot syrup over the peaches. You may want to use a plastic butter knife to remove any bubbles and rearrange the peaches to make sure that every bit of the peaches is in contact with the syrup. Leave a half inch of headspace at the top of the jars.
Wipe the rim of the jar, place the lid on the jar, and tighten the band.
Replace the jar in the canner, and repeat this until all of the jars in the canner are full. Fill the canner with enough water to cover the jars completely. Place the lid on the canner and turn up the heat to bring the water in the canner to a boil.
Start timing when the water comes to a full, rolling boil. For quarts, you should process them for 35 minutes. You can lower the heat to make it a gentle boil if your pot seems like it’s getting too excited there on the stove.
When the timer is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the canner. Let the canner sit uncovered with the jars in the water for about 5 minutes before removing them to a clean dishtowel on the kitchen counter. Let the jars sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours before storing them in a cool, dark place. Test the lids for a seal before you store them. If a jar is unsealed, you can try to re-process it with a new lid or just store it in the fridge for a couple of days before using it.
One thing I love about canning fruits is how pretty they are sitting out on the counter overnight. It’s so cheering to wake up the next morning to a row of colorful fruit jars waiting to be placed in the pantry.
These home-canned peaches make the best peach cobbler ever.
I’ve heard of people canning peaches without a sugar syrup. Perhaps next time I will do that. I’d love to lower our sugar intake!
Have you ever canned peaches? Do you use a raw pack, like what I described above or a hot pack, where you heat the peach halves in the syrup before canning? Have you canned peaches without sugar at all? Let’s talk about home-canned peaches!