How to Can Peaches

September 7, 2017

By Anna Varriano

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With fresh peaches arriving daily at markets and grocery stores at this time of year, I decided I would can some so that I can enjoy the gorgeous taste of local peaches from time to time even when they are no longer in season.

Peaches are loaded with health-boosting nutrients that are in their highest concentration when peaches are purchased locally/in season, so canning is a great way to ‘preserve’ the nutrients beyond peach season. The nutrients in peaches have been associated with neutralizing various carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), reducing the risk of heart disease, supporting gut health, and supporting eye health.

In this blog, I thought I’d share how to can a very small batch of peaches; that is, starting with one basket of peaches (about 14 medium-sized peaches) and ending up with 2 standard-sized (32 oz) mason jars of canned sliced peaches as the finished product.

I suggest starting with a small batch – especially if you’ve never done any canning before. Even if you have, there are a few advantages associated with starting small:

  1. You won’t get overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in the prepping, canning, and cleaning up processes
  2. If the peaches aren’t great for some reason, you don’t end up with a big batch of mediocre canned peaches
  3. Just in case something goes ‘wrong’ with the process, you don’t loose an entire bushel of peaches

So, if you have a couple of hours to spare and you want to try canning one basket of peaches to get your canning wings, here are the instructions!

You Will Need

  • 14 peaches – look for ‘freestone’ peaches as it’s easier to remove the pit compared to clingstone peaches
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 TBSP of honey (raw and local is best)
  • 2 standard (32 oz) sized mason jars with lids
  • a pot that is taller then the mason jars (e.g. you can put the mason jars in it and the pot lid will still fit properly)

Step 1: Sterilize Jars and Lids

I washed the jars with hot soapy water, rinsed them, then filled them with boiling water and let them sit for a few minutes before emptying them and setting them aside to dry. I also boiled the lids in a small pot of water for 5 minutes. My mom used to sterilize her jars in the dishwasher (most have a setting for ‘sterilizing’) … however, she used to do dozens of jars of peaches, tomatoes, pears … you name it .. so it was a full load!

Step 2: Wash the Peaches

Wash the peaches to remove any dirt.

Step 3: Prepare the Canning Liquid

In a pot, add 1 litre/4 cups of water and 2 TBSP of honey. Bring it to a gentle boil and then keep it on the lowest simmer possible until you need it (after a few more steps!) Adding honey helps to stabilize flavour, colour, and texture of the fruit. Note that most standard canning ‘recipes’ use A LOT of sugar. I didn’t want to do that!

Step 4: Peeling

You can peel peaches with a good peeler or a sharp knife; or you can try this ‘trick’ instead. Note that the ripeness of the peach has to be more-or-less ‘just right’ for best results when using this ‘trick’. Here’s the trick:

Get a pot of boiling water going on the stove and get a large bowl of water with ice in it ready in the sink. Put the peaches in the boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds or so.

Take them out with a slotted spoon and put them in the ice water. Let them sit in the cold water for a few minutes.

If all goes well, you should be able to pretty much ‘pull’ or ‘slide’ the peel off – like this…

I use a pairing knife for this process. It hasn’t always worked for me, so when it doesn’t, I resort to a sharp peeler or small knife to remove the peel. Hope the Gods of Peach Peeling are on your side!

Step 5: Slicing

Cut the peaches in half, and twist the halves to separate. The peach pit will likely still be in one half, so gently pry it out with a small knife, or cut the peach half in quarters and use your fingers to remove the pit. Put the peach slices in a bowl, squeeze fresh lemon juice on them, and toss them around in the juice. This will prevent the peach slices from going brown. I do this lemon juice step with each peach that I slice and add to the bowl.

Step 6: Fill the Jars

Once all the peaches are sliced and they have been well coated/tossed with fresh squeezed lemon juice, put them into the mason jars (that you sterilized and dried out earlier). Gently shake/tap the jars to make sure that the peaches are well packed. The basket of peaches I used had 14 medium-sized peaches and all the slices fit perfectly into 2 mason jars.

Once the jars are filled with the peach slices, take the canning liquid that has been simmering since Step 3, and pour half of it into each jar. You want the liquid to fill the jars, leaving about a 1/2 to 1 inch of space from the top of the jar. If you need a bit more liquid, boil some water in a kettle and add it to the jars. Run a dull knife or a small rubber spatula down the sides of the jar to release any trapped air. Once the jars are filled properly, cap them tightly with the sterilized mason jar lids.

Step 7: Water Bath

For this step, you’ll need a pot that is tall enough so that the pot lid will still fit on the pot when the jars of peaches are in it. Put the jars of peaches in the pot and fill it with water until the jars are covered with at least 1 inch of water. I boiled the water in the kettle first, then added it. Saves a bit of time. Bring the water to a boil and let it boil for 20 minutes (adjust the heat if necessary so that the water stays boiling but isn’t splattering everywhere or knocking the jars all over the place!). After 2o minutes of boiling, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the burner, then VERY CAREFULLY remove the jars from the pot (use jar lifting tongs if you have them) and set them somewhere to cool where they won’t be bumping against each other.

Step 8: Cooling, Checking, and Storing

Once the jars are completely cooled, make sure they are sealed properly. The first sign they are sealed properly is that the lid should be sucked down a bit.  The next sign is if you press down gently on the centre of the lid with your finger, the lid should not pop up and down. If the lid doesn’t pop, you are ready to store your canned peaches in a cool pantry (I have a small cold cellar in my basement). If the lid does pop up and down, you can try replacing the lid and doing the water bath again … or put the jar of peaches in the fridge and enjoy it over the next few days!

Many sources say that canned goods can last forever. I just want my canned peaches to last until next peach season! Here are some practical guidelines regarding how long canned foods last and how to tell if they have spoiled/are still safe to eat.

Hope you’ll try it and have success!

Enjoy!

 

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