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how to can peaches

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We grow small amounts of berries and tree fruits here on our homestead, but in order to put up enough fruit for the winter months we visit local farms to collect the various types of fruit for preserving. Getting your produce straight from the farm is one of the best options if you can’t grow it yourself.

Pick Your Peaches:

We love to visit the U-pick farms in our area to pick our own berries, apples and peaches. A bushel of peaches will give you an average of 20 quarts. I estimate about 6 peaches per quart sized jar. So how much fruit you pick will depend on how many jars you intend to can. Choosing a freestone variety of peach will make this process much easier!

picking peaches

Get Your Supplies:

canning toolsBefore you begin the canning process you want to have everything ready in order for the  process to go more efficiently. You will need:

  • A large canning pot-preferably with rack
  • A large stock pot for cooking peaches
  • A small saucepan for sterilizing lids
  • A few different large bowls for holding peeled peaches, skins and sliced peaches
  • A sharp knife and a vegetable peeler
  • A canning kit– funnel, jar grabber, magnetic lid lifter, etc.
  • Sterilized jars, lids and rings

I like to line the counters with towels for easier cleanup. Fill the canner half full with water, set the pots on their burners and set the other supplies on the counter within reach. I run my jars through the dishwasher to sanitize them and keep them there until I am ready to fill them. I turn the heat on medium-high on the canner so that the water is near boiling by the time I am ready to go. Fill the small pot with water and place the lids in to simmer (not boil) to sterilize while you are working- I usually don’t turn the heat on this pot till much later in the process.

washing peaches

 

Lets Get Started!

The first step is to wash the peaches. I just fill the sink with water and scrub them until most of the fuzz is gone. Then set them on a towel beside the sink. I like to work in batches of about 40-45, since that is about how many will fit in each 7-qt canner load.

peeled peaches

Once they are washed, it’s time to peel. This step is totally optional, you can can peaches with their skins still on, I prefer to peel them since the skins get a little slimy after processing. You have a couple options for peeling.

  • Place the peaches in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer to an ice water bath for a couple minutes. If your peaches are ripe the skins should slide right off. If they are still on the hard side this option won’t work quite as well.
  • Peel the the old fashion way- with a vegetable peeler!

 

Now it’s time to cut! Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit, then set aside or continue slicing if you want sliced peaches. You can toss the slices/halves with some lemon juice if you are worried about discoloration.

Prepare the Syrup:

You have quite a few options when it comes to packing your peaches in jars- anything from a heavy syrup to water. I don’t like to add sugar to my canned peaches so I pack mine in a syrup made up of a 1:1 ratio of fruit juice and water. I like to use a mixture of apple and white grape juice. You want to heat this syrup gently on the stove while you are washing, peeling and cutting the peaches so that it is ready to use when you need it. You will need approximately 10 cups of syrup per canning load.

Packing the Jars:

cooking peachesYou have the option of cold, or raw, packing your jars, but I prefer to use a hot pack, so that is what I will describe here. Working in batches, place the cut peaches in your prepared syrup and allow them to simmer for about 5 minutes. Then use a slotted spoon to transfer the heated peaches to your clean jars. I fill them as full and I can, but some settling occurs as I fill the jars so I usually top them off just before filling the jars with the syrup. You want to leave about an inch head space between the rim of the jar and the fruit. Once the jars are all filled, ladle the hot syrup over them, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.

 

Before placing the lids, run a knife or spatula between the peaches and the jar- pressing in a bit as you do- to release any air bubbles and top with more syrup if needed to maintain the 1/2 in head space. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any juice and top with sterilized lids and hand-tightened rings.

Canning:

cannning peachesOnce all 7 jars are ready, place them in the near boiling water of the canner and lower the rack. The water should be about 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Turn the heat up to high and place on the lid. Once the water has reached a full boil, start your timer for 30 minutes (for quarts). Once the pot is at a full boil I usually turn the heat down a bit to keep the water from spilling over. Once the 30 minutes are up, I use a couple forks to pull the rack back out of the water and use the jar lifter to remove the finished jars from the canning pot. Place the hot jars, not touching,  on a towel covered surface to cool. Put them in a place where they won’t be disturbed or bumped while they cool. You might hear the pinging sound of the jars sealing as they cool, but be sure to check for a good seal once they are cool. If you press on the center of the lid it should not move up and down, if it does the jar is not sealed and should be placed in the refrigerator. You can also reprocess the jar with a new lid.canned peaches

 And you’re all done! Now you will be able to enjoy summer’s harvest all winter long!

 

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