Peaches are in season from May to September, but you can preserve their delicious flavor by canning them to use in jellies, jams, desserts, or more. You don't need a pressure canner to can peaches, so it's simpler than preserving some other types of produce. Read on for tips on how to can peaches so you can enjoy them all year long.
What Supplies Do You Need to Can Peaches?
Like most other fruits, peaches have a high enough acid level to prevent the growth of the botulism toxin. Because of this, you can use the water bath method for canning peaches. To get started, you'll need to have some supplies on hand, including:
Water bath canner. Water bath canners are large cooking pots with a rack to prevent the jars from touching the bottom. They can be used to can fruits, tomatoes, jams, jellies, pickles, and other high-acid products. They're not safe for canning vegetables, meats, or other low-acid foods due to the risk of botulism.
Canning jars. Only use jars that are designed to be used for canning. Repurposed jars from commercial products are not meant to be used in canning and aren't safe to use. Mason-type jars are the safest bet for home canning. They can be reused indefinitely as long as they aren't chipped or damaged.
Canning lids. The most common type of lids for canning are two-piece sets that consist of a flat disk and a screw-on band. The screw-on bands can be reused if they aren't bent or rusted, but the flat lids should only be used once.
Canning utensils. You'll need utensils like the following to make canning easier:
- A jar lifter for lifting jars out of hot water
- A big mouth funnel to fill jars
- A plastic knife to get bubbles out of jars
- A lid wand with a magnet to lift lids from hot water if they've been preheated
Basic kitchen supplies. You'll also need basic supplies like a timer, knives, pots, a slotted spoon, a strainer, a cutting board, and paper towels or cloths for cleaning.
How to Choose the Best Peaches for Canning
Look for ripe, mature peaches with yellow flesh that are perfect for eating. Pick peaches that don't have bruises or spots and will hold their shape well.
You should never can white-fleshed peaches. They're lower in acid than traditional yellow peaches, so they aren't safe for water bath canning. As of right now, there are no tested, safe procedures for either acidifying white-flesh peaches or pressure canning them. If you want to preserve peaches with white flesh, freezing is the safest method.
Many varieties of yellow freestone peaches are perfect for canning, including:
- Ernie's Choice
- John Boy
How Do You Prepare Peaches for Canning?
To make 7 quarts of canned peaches, you'll need around 16 pounds. To make 9 pints, you'll need around 10 pounds of peaches. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dip peaches in boiling water until the skin loosens, around 30 to 60 seconds. Remove them and quickly dip them in cold water and remove the skins.
Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits, and slice them to whatever size you choose. Mix 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 1 gallon of water. Keep peeled peaches in this acidic water to prevent browning.
Peaches can be canned in water, apple or grape juice, or sugar syrup. Sugar syrup for canning peaches can be made by mixing sugar and water in the following amounts and heating until the sugar is dissolved:
- Very light syrup: Mix 1 1/4 cups of sugar in 10½ cups of water.
- Light syrup: Mix 2 1/4 cups of sugar in 9 cups of water.
- Medium syrup: Mix 3 3/4 cups of sugar in 8¼ cups of water.
Processing Peaches in a Water Bath Canner
Both the hot pack and raw pack methods can be used to can peaches, but the hot pack method will produce better results. Raw packed peaches float to the top of the jar and can lose a lot of their juice through siphoning, which is a process where fruit fibers get trapped between the jar and the lid, compromising the seal.
Hot pack. Bring peaches and syrup, juice, or water to a boil. Fill clean jars with hot peaches and cooking liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe off the rims of jars with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel. Add lids and bands.
Raw pack. Fill jars with cut-up fruit. Add boiling water, juice, or syrup to fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe off the rims of jars with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel. Add lids and bands.
Processing instructions. Fill the canner one-half full with water and preheat to 180°F if you're doing the hot pack method and 140°F if you're doing the raw pack method. Put sealed jars on the rack in the canner and add water to 1 inch over the depth of the jars, if necessary. When water starts to boil vigorously, cover and lower the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Start processing time.
After processing, move the canner off heat and remove the lid. Wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and place them on a towel or rack to cool for 12 to 24 hours. Remove screw bands and check the lids to see if they're sealed. If the lid is indented, it's sealed. If the lid isn't sealed, reprocess with a new lid and a new jar if the jar is damaged.
Processing time. Process hot pack peaches in the water bath canner for the durations listed below, based on the size of your jars and your altitude:
- Altitude 0 to 1,000 feet: Pints, 20 minutes, quarts, 25 minutes
- Altitude 1,001 to 3,000 feet: Pints, 25 minutes, quarts, 30 minutes
- Altitude 3,001 to 6,000 feet: Pints, 30 minutes, quarts, 35 minutes
- Altitude above 6,000 feet: Pints, 35 minutes, quarts, 40 minutes
Process raw pack peaches in the water bath canner for the times listed below, based on the size of your jars and your altitude:
- Altitude 0 to 1,000 feet: Pints, 25 minutes, quarts, 30 minutes
- Altitude 1,001 to 3,000 feet: Pints, 30 minutes, quarts, 35 minutes
- Altitude 3,001 to 6,000 feet: Pints, 35 minutes, quarts, 40 minutes
- Altitude above 6,000 feet: Pints, 40 minutes, quarts, 45 minutes
How Long Do Canned Peaches Last?
Peaches are best if they're eaten within a year of canning, but they're safe to eat as long as the lids are vacuum-sealed.