Peaches are one of the easiest foods to can. They are also one of the best illustrations of the how much better home canned food tastes compared to commercially canned food. My son will no longer eat canned peaches from the store - the taste difference is really that dramatic!
How To Can Peaches Step By Step:
I started with about 90 lbs of peaches.
Wash your peaches.
Place your peaches in a bowl and put a large pot of water on the stove. Go ahead and put your canner on too so the water will be hot and ready for your filled jars. In order to remove the skins you will need to blanch the fruit.
This picture jumps ahead a step or two because I forgot to take a picture of the next step but you can clearly see what I did to the bottom of the peaches. So pretend I'm holding a peach with a knife and score (make an X) with your knife on the bottom of the peach. (Do not worry about the bowl with the ice; we will get to that in a moment)
Now that your peaches are scored place them in bowling hot water for about a minute. You can place more than one peach in the pot at a time but don't overload the pot. If you do the peaches will be done at the same time and you won't be able to remove them before they begin to cook. This method only works well if your peaches are perfectly ripe. If they are not ripe the skin will still stick to the flesh, and if they are overly ripe the peach will fall apart. The peaches are ripe when they are slightly soft. In other words, when you lightly squeeze the peach, if your fingers are able to make a slight indent, then the peaches are ripe.
Now, is where the cold water and ice come in. After about one minute in the boiling water quickly place the peaches in a bowl with cold water and ice. This will stop the cooking process but will allow you to remove the skin easily.
After the peaches have cooled in the ice water for a moment grab a piece of the skin from the bottom where the you scored the peach and gently pull. You can see how the skin is coming right off on this peach.
Here is another peach where the skin is being removed.
Skinless peaches are slippery! And contrary to popular belief the stone (peach seed) does not always come out clean (unstuck to the flesh) even if the fruit is ripe. This may have something to do with when the fruit is picked. I don't have a peach tree so I don't have control over that part of the process. So last year when I was struggling with peaches that did not come away from the stone clean I made a Scarlet promise (You remember, "As God as my witness I will never...") and vowed never to can peaches without a peach corer. You can see it pictured above.
It does a pretty good job. There is some extra flesh left on the stone and if it comes away easily you can use the extras to make jam.
Wash your jars.
Wash your lids.
And wash your rings.
Place your canning jars in the oven. I let them heat up to 350 degrees to sterilize them for ten minutes then turn the oven to 200 degrees to keep them warm.
This canning method is called the cold pack method and it simply means that you do not cook the fruit before you can it. The are pros and cons to this method. If you cook the fruit first you might not have a problem with food floating to the top of the jar, leaving your jars looking half full. If you cook your fruit before you can it, well, it's cooked more and the taste might be compromised. There are people who swear by both methods. I just find this method to be the easiest so that's what I usually go with.
I don't like to use a lot of sugar in my canned peaches. Over the years I have found that using almost no sugar will discolor my fruit and although it's still safe to eat my kids don't think it looks appetizing. So I try to use the least amount of sugar possible and still produce a product my boys will eat. I use 3 tablespoons per quart.
Fill your jars with hot water. Not the water you used for blanching. You want to have nice clean clear water to fill your jars.
Remove the air bubbles from the jars. Although it seems I can never get them all out, this handy tool helps. The other end of the air bubble remover helps measure the headspace.
Check your headspace. For canned peaches you should have 1/2 inch headspace.
Wipe off the rims of the jars so that you can get a good seal.
Remove the rings from the pot. This tool has a magnet on the end and makes it easier to grab the rings and the lids. Also, if you place the lids and rings in the pot inside each other like you see I’ve done in the picture this will prevent the tops from sticking.
Place the lids on the jars.
Place the rings on the jars and tighten “finger tight.” Finger tight means not too tight and not too loose. Just tighten them as far as they will go without forcing them.
Place the jars in the canner. Bring the water to a boil and start the timer. Peaches should be processed (boiled) for 30 minutes, adjusting for altitude. You can find adjustments for altitude here. To look up your altitude go here. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for about 5 minutes.
Remove the jars from the canner.
Let your jars sit and cool for at least eight hours. Remove the rings. If the rings stay on and the lid fails (becomes unsealed) while the ring is on, the lid may reseal itself. However, bacteria has already invaded the jar and the food should not be eaten; with the ring left on there is no way you will know about the resealing. If the rings are off the lid has no pressure to reseal itself so if the lid seal fails then you’ll know and you can throw that jar out. Label and put away.