You can’t beat a home-canned peach. Store-bought doesn’t compare. Some other fruits handle store shelves pretty well, like pineapple and pears, but store-canned peaches are nearly flavorless in comparison.
If you can only one variety of fruit, can peaches.
Linda came over to do it with me, bearing a bushel of peaches from the local fruit market. After an aborted attempt at canning them — they weren’t ready yet! — we let them ripen for 3 more days. They were gorgeous. Firm, fragrant, and only one bad one in the bunch, discovered at the bottom of one of the boxes.
We got about 32 pints from that bushel, with about 20 peaches kept aside for fresh eating and baking. Here’s how to can your own.
how to can peaches
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. It’s a canning bible. Seriously. I bolded the main parts, but really, the meat is in the unbolded stuff. Stuff like how not to shatter your jars, little things like that.
bushel yields: about 32 pints, with peaches left over for fresh eating
prep: 60 minutes
processing: 20 minutes
• boiling-water canner
• canning jars
• 2-piece lids.
• A canning kit is also really nice to have. It has a funnel, jar tongs, magnetic lid lifter — I do not know how I lived without this — and a couple other things I forget. Those three things are the most handy.
I’ve put together a bunch of canning equipment in the store too.
1 bushel peaches
4-1/2 cups sugar
10-1/2 cups water
1. In a large saucepan, heat sugar and water to a simmer. You’ve just made the light syrup to pack your peaches in. Once all sugar is dissolved, keep syrup hot. Keep sugar on hand; if you have a whole bushel of peaches, you’ll need to mix up another batch of syrup.
2. Give peaches a light rinse if they’re dirty. You’re going to be blanching and peeling them, so if they’re clean-looking, you don’t need to do it.
3. Dump 4-5 peaches at a time into a pot of boiling water. Leave them in there 30 to 60 seconds. Remove and submerge in cold water. Do this until all the peaches are blanched, adding ice or changing water as necessary.
4. Peel and halve the peaches. One at a time, remove skins. (If the skins don’t slip off easily with just pressure from your thumb and fingers, the peaches probably aren’t ripe enough. Stop blanching now, make a bunch of cobbler with the blanched ones, and let the unblanched ones ripen another day or two.) Run a paring knife around the peach, beginning and ending at the stem. Slip halves of the peach from the stone, and drop into water treated with Fruit Fresh to keep them from browning.
Note: You could also do your peaches in quarters, which would be handy if you plan on baking with them later. We did a combination of halves and quarters.
5. Continue with step 3 until all peaches are halved.
6. Pack peaches in hot jars, cut side down. I like to use wide-mouth pints for this. The larger halves go in easily and it’s easy to flip that first peach over (they always want to land curved side down). You can get 4-5 halves into a jar.
7. Ladle syrup over the peaches, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
8. Remove air bubbles by running a non-metallic thing around the inside of a jar. A plastic knife does the job. After removing air bubbles, you may need to add more syrup to some jars.
9. Wipe off tops of jars and put lids and bands on. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes in your boiling-water canner.
10. Remove, allow to cool on a towel for 12 to 24 hours. And enjoy listening to that pop! pop! pop! of the jars sealing.