Canning peaches is simple. You will need just ripe peaches that are not soft or mushy, and you will need about 45 minutes of preparation time and about 25 minutes of processing time.
Peaches are easily prepared for canning in a hot-water bath canner.
You will need about 17½ pounds of peaches for each canner load of 7 quarts. That’s about 2½ pounds per quart. You will need 11 pounds of peaches for each canner load of 9 pints. Three medium to large peaches equal a pound.
Choose firm, plump, just ripe fruit with no touch of green that is free of bruising. A just ripe peach will give slightly when gently pressed. It should not be soft. (If you have unripe peaches, you can ripen them in a paper bag at room temperature, away from sunlight. Check them each day and use as soon as they are ripe.)
Peach varieties that are excellent choices for canning include Alawar, Arctic Supreme, Babygold 5, Elberta, Frost, Gold Medal, J.H. Hale, Late Crawford, Redglobe, Redhaven, Redskin, Rio Oso, Gem, Rochester, Slappy, Strawberry Free, Sunhigh, Valient, Vetran, Vulcan, Vinegold, Virgil, and Venture.
The directions here can also be used for canning nectarines.
- 2 to 3 pounds of fresh peaches per quart or 1 to 1½ pounds per pint. 3 pounds of peaches is about 10 or 11 peaches.
- ½ to ⅔ cup light syrup for each 2 cups of fruit (see directions for making syrup in Step 5)
- To peel the peaches dip the fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until the skins loosen. Then plunge the fruit quickly in cold water and slip off the skins.
- Pare away bruises or unevenly ripened sections if necessary. Cut peaches (and nectarines) along the seam, twist the fruit in half, and remove the pits. Cut into halves or quarters or slices if desired.
- To prevent darkening, put peeled fruit directly into a pre-canning ascorbic acid solution: 2 tablespoons each of salt and vinegar and 1 gallon of water. Don’t let the fruit sit in this solution for more than 20 minutes; lightly rinse the fruit before putting it into jars.
- Scald the canning jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack; this is the same pot you will use to process the jars. Put the jars on the counter just before you are ready to fill them. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.
- Prepare light syrup: in a large saucepan combine 4 cups water and 1 to 1⅔ cups sugar. Stir and heat until the sugar dissolves. Skim the foam as necessary. Make 4½ cups which is good for three or four 1-quart jars of sliced of halved peaches. Keep the syrup hot. (You can also pack peaches in water, apple juice, or white grape juice—use the same amount of juice in place of the light syrup.)
- In a heavy kettle or pot combine peaches and hot light syrup. Bring the mix to a boil for about 1 minute. This is called the hot-pack method of canning. (You can raw pack peaches—but it won’t be as tasty: place the fruit cut side down in the jar and cover with boiling syrup or liquid. In the raw pack method you do not combine the syrup and peaches in a pot and bring to a boil before packing the fruit in the jar.)
- Fill hot, sterilized canning jars with fruit and cooking liquid. Use a ladle to place halved fruits in layers cut side down. Top with additional hot syrup leaving ½-inch headspace. (You may want to transfer the hot syrup from the pot to a heat-proof pitcher to make pouring the syrup over the peaches easier.)
- Remove air bubbles by running a thin non-metallic utensil around the inside of the jar checking for air pockets and allowing air to escape. Add more syrup if needed. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal with the lids, then screw on the bands until snug.
- Place the jars in a boiling water canner for processing. Cover the jars with water by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil. Process pints 20 minutes and quarts 25 minutes at 0 to 1,000 feet altitude; process pints 25 minutes and quarts 30 minutes at 1,001 to 3,000 feet altitude; process pints 30 minutes and quarts 35 minutes at 3,001 to 6,000 feet altitude; process pints 35 minutes and quarts 40 minutes above 6,000 feet altitude. Processing starts when the water reaches a boil. (You can also process peaches in a Pressure Canner following the manufacturer’s direction for steam pressure and time at your altitude.)
- Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water set on a folded kitchen towel or metal rack and let cool to room temperature; this may take from 12 to 24 hours. Remove and store the screw bands.
- Label the jars and store in a cool, dark place. Use the canned peaches within the next year. Refrigerate after opening.