Tuesday, August 24, 2010

how to can peaches

I spent most of the evenings last week canning 50 lbs. of peaches and spiced peach jam, and I am exhausted. Canning is hard work! I cannot imagine how my grandparents, who are in their late 70s, still can peaches, pears, green beans, salsa, pickles, and various other produce items from their garden each year. Maybe I'm just a wimp. But the sweet peach halves in the middle of winter make it worth all the hours on my feet, getting splashed with boiling hot water.

A friend of mine complained the peaches she canned a couple of years ago didn't turn out--they had discolored and didn't taste good. So she asked if she could come watch me this year. I was thrilled to have some help, until I remembered that I can at night. I'm talking after 10:00 people, which means I'm not usually done until after midnight (or later!). It's too hot during the day, and I have to wait until my kids are in bed. Too many distractions otherwise.

Since she's not a crazy nocturnal canner like me, she asked if I'd post the process here. I'm thinking there are a few more of you out there who would love to try canning peaches, but don't know where to start. Well here you go. It's really not difficult, just time-consuming. And scorching, but don't let that deter you! It's kind of like hot glue gun burns. They are the curse of the crafter, but you get over it pretty quickly for the end result.

Canned Peaches Tutorial

Ripe peaches (2-3 lbs. per quart)
Fruit Fresh or other powder fruit preservative

Equipment needed:
Clean quart canning jars
NEW matching canning lids
Canning lid rings
Water bath canner
Magnetic lid wand
Jar tongs
Large pot
Small pot
Non-metal spatula

Before I do anything else, I always fill my canner with water (about 3/4 of the way) and put it on a burner on high heat. It takes a while to boil, so you might as well get started now!

The next very important step that I don't have a picture for is to heat/sterilize your jars. I put mine in the top rack of the dishwasher and run a sanitize cycle with heated drying. This will heat the jars so they won't crack, and clean them so no bacteria will be in with your peaches. I leave them in the dishwasher until I'm ready to pull one out so they'll stay hot.

Next, wash your peaches. I start with a small group of about six at a time.

In your large pot, heat some water to boiling. Drop about three peaches in the hot water for about 60 seconds. While these are blanching, wash your next six peaches.

Remove the peaches and submerge in cold water. I add ice cubes to my bowl of water so it will stay cold (the hot peaches warm it up after a few). You'll have to add more ice after every 2-3 batches.

Gently slip off peel with your fingers. If it doesn't come off easily, you may not have blanched it long enough. Put skinned peaches in a large bowl. Discard peels in another bowl.

I like to put the next three peaches in the hot water while I skin the previous three.
If you're doing a large batch like I did, sprinkle the peaches with some Fruit Fresh now.

With a knife, cut the peaches in half along the indentation.

Pull out your pit and scrape out any fibrous flesh with a spoon.

If you have pits that are broken in half, use a spoon to dig each half out.

After slicing about six peaches, I sprinkle them with more Fruit Fresh to keep them from browning and preserve the flavor.

Make a syrup from water and sugar. You can do a light, medium, or heavy syrup, but I always do light. My measurements are 2 1/4 c. sugar to 5 1/4 c. water, which makes 6 1/2 c. syrup. I usually make 3 batches for my 24 lbs. of peaches, but start with smaller increments if you aren't sure how much you'll need. Heat them in a large pot until the sugar is dissolved. Keep it hot.

Layer peach halves with the pit cavity side down. This could possibly the hardest part of canning. Those darn halves want to fall in cavity side up every single time, and it can be hard to turn them over with a spatula with these narrow-necked bottles. But it is important to help prevent bubbles. Leave at least 1/2" headroom from the top of the last peach to the top of the rim of the jar.

Using a funnel, ladle hot syrup over peaches. Fill to 1/2" headspace between top of syrup and rim of the jar.

Take a spatula (non-metal) and put it in the jar, pressing against the peaches around the perimeter of the jar. This will release air bubbles and is very important to ensure your food is safely stored.

10. With a wet cloth, wipe off the rim and sides of the top of the jar. This is important to ensure proper sealing of lid.

11. Oh yeah. Before you start ladling syrup, heat some water in a small pot and put your NEW lids (not last year's) in to soak.

12. Using your magnetic lid wand, lift a lid from the pot and place it on the jar.

Screw a lid ring on tight.

If you have a wire rack that came with your canner, suspend it over the boiling water and put bottles on it.

Once you have a group of bottles (my canner fits about 7 quart jars at once), lower the rack into the boiling water. Cover and boil for 30 minutes. Remember, your water should completely cover your jars by 1-2". If it doesn't, add more water and wait for the water to return to a boil before staring your timer.

Being extra, super careful, use lid tongs to remove bottles from canner and place on a dish towel on the counter. Pretty soon you will begin to hear the lids "pop" or "ping" loudly. This tells you the seal is good and your peaches are ready to store. If you don't hear a ping after 24 hours (and you can press down the center of the lid and it pops back up), refrigerate and use your peaches soon. I only had one bottle out of 25 that didn't seal.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long. Ahhhhhh. . .

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32 Responses to “how to can peaches”

Maxabella said...

Wow, that's a job and half!

Your blog is really inspirational. I love it here.


kylie said...

wow! how long does it to create all those lovely jars of preserved peaches? we are nearing the end of winter here in australia, cannot wait till stone fruit summertime!

love your blog by the way

The Wifeyness said...

Thank you SOOO much for posting this step-by-step how to! I've been wanting to can, and remember doing it with my mom, but my mind had forgotten some of the steps!

Ann On and On... said...

Music to my ears! I loved your post and hope to do some canning myself in the next week or so.

Carolyn said...

Great tutorial. I can peach halves, slices and jam every year. I couldn't agree with you more about opening a can in the middle of winter...yummm!

sa4grace said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I've canned other things before and used a completely different method that didn't include a bath (but I did jam, so perhaps the method is different). I've wanted to try this, but need photos (visual learner that I am). I appreciate this very much. :)

Scorchi said...

I love your blog; each entry is so fun and inspiring.

I have a suggestion for getting the peach halves into the bottle with cut side down. If you place a butter knife at a diagonal in the bottle, you can slide the peach down it face side down. Those peaches love going down the sliding into the bottle!

Jessica said...

Do you have a peach tree, or do you buy the peaches?

Julie said...

Rather than going to all the trouble to make and pour the sticky syrup you can put 1 cup of hot water in your jar, add 2/3 cup of sugar and stir until dissloved. Then add your friut to the jar and top it off with a little more water if needed. It's so much eaiser and way less messier! Plus then my little kids can help because I'm not using something that's hot enough to burn them.

Amber said...

I don't have time for this right now (some day perhaps), but I sent it along to a friend who is into canning. Those peaches look amazing.

Kayleen said...

Thanks!! You're a peach!

The Cook Fam said...

Looks SOOOO delish! Way to go!

Unknown said...

Wow! very nice tutorial very well explained and very easy to follow...my mom cans salsa, tomatoes, guavas, cactus and some other stuff from her garden. I just play the part that I am not interested and when my sweet mom offers me a can of salsa I very appreciative say "well yes, thank you mom" lol!

Stacia said...

Thank you for posting this! I have wanted to do this for some time, but not sure how to go about it. Would it be safe to assume that the process is the same for pears?

Unknown said...

I canned some peaches late last week and I've got to say I'm terrified of giving everyone botulism! That natural caved space from the pit just seems to beg for air to be trapped there. Have you ever had a problem am I just extra paranoid and brainwashed that only Del Monte can do it right?

Pat Sloan said...

I have always wanted to do canning! love your tutorial!

Stephanie said...

i too am a nocturnal canner... can't can 'til the babies are in bed... but then it is a very late affair! especially if i clean up after myself that night!

thanks for the tutorial!

Amy said...

I'm exhausted just watching that process!

I say good for you for doing it. You've saved a ton of money, while I'll purchase mine from the store out of cans.

Pat Sloan said...

i always wanted to do canning... the peaches look amazing!

Jenn said...

Wow i had no idea it was such a long process! I totally thought you just put peaches in a can and that's it, lol!

Kat said...

Thanks for making something that seemed so intimidating seem possible!

Little Birdie Secrets said...

To answer the questions so far:
It took me about 8 hours to do it all, including the peach jam.

I wish I had a tree, but instead I buy them through a produce group-buy in my area for a great deal (straight from the farmer).

LOVE the idea of sliding the peaches down a knife--that is going to save me so much time! Thank you!

In all my years of canning (4?) I have never had a bad batch that made anyone sick. I don't think the air bubbles are that much of a problem--just be sure to try to release them.

The process for pears is similar, but you use a hot-pack method instead. Basically that means you cook the pears in your syrup before adding them to the jar. I'll have to do a pear tutorial the next time I can them.

Sweet idea about making the syrup as you go! Using the ladle is a little messy/sticky. Thanks!

Amy from Our Dish said...

I am ETERNALLY grateful for this post! Thank you for sharing such helpful hints!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jodee said...

you need to be careful about dropping your jars into boiling water, they could break... I usually warm the water up before but not to a boil. Then after the jars are in I take it up to a boil.

Katie said...

Thing brings back memories of my childhood. We canned a lot of things, including peaches!

teedle. said...

canning is an art all of its own. I love to can

Nurul said...

good job, and thanks for the tutorial.......^^

Kreateten said...

I just wanted to let you know that I now has 2 jars of peaches in my cabinet! Thx for showing me how too! :-)

RandomWonders said...

Thank you for posting this, I was wondering how to do this! PERFECT!!

suzzanna said...

thanks for this post. now i have to run to the store for peaches..cant wait to try this!

Unknown said...

WOW! The fam and I were just talking about canning the (white)peaches we get from our tree. Last year was our 1st year with the tree and unfortunately some went to waste (we had no idea how many we'd get). So this year we gave alot away 2 fam & friends, and did our share of pies, and unfortunately again, after eating all we could, sharing and baking, we still had a good amount go 2 waste. So we thought of canning. We hate having 2 wait 2 enjoy our peaches then when the're gone the're gone til the next batch grows. It'll be AWESOME enjoying them any time of the year. Thank you, thank you, thank you sooooo soooo much. LOVE IT!!!!!

GBL said...

I've canned apricots many times but the fruit always float. Can you tell me why that happens? This is a great tutorial - thank you. 😊

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