Canning Fresh Peaches
One of my favorite summer activities is canning peaches. In the cold winter there is nothing better than a eating jar of these sweet summer fruit slices. Last season, we canned over 200 jars (pints and quarts) of fresh peaches.
I got most of my canning information from the "Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving". This book is a great resource for all of your canning needs! The good thing about canning peaches is that they can be done in a "hot water bath" this means that they are able to be processed in a large pot of boiling water.
First things first- sterilize those jars, lids and rings. Even though this may seem boring, this is one of the most important parts in the canning process. Everything must be sanitized properly to ensure that you are not going to trap germs and bacteria in the jar with your canned fruit. I wash my jars with a mixture of soap, water and a little bit of bleach. I do this even if they are brand new because have you ever smelt a brand new canning jar? Yuck! After that I boil the jars and then I put them in the oven on 200 for about 20 minutes (this dries them out). Some would say that I take too may steps in the sterilization process but I don't think they can ever be too clean.
Next you will want to begin peeling and cutting your peaches if you haven't already.
I prefer to use cling peaches (fruit does not pull away from the pit). Many people want freestone (fruit easily pulls away from the pit) because they would like to have an easier task when it comes to peeling and cutting. In my opinion, freestone peaches tend to mush in the canning process and are better for making jam/jelly. The cling peaches stay more firm when they are preserved in slices. I love the flavor of cling peaches and my personal favorite variety is "Baby Golds"
If you have a potato peeler, this will be your best friend for peeling cling peaches. The skin does not slip off easily and the trick of scalding peaches in boiling water does not work well for clings. Peeling them manually is your best bet and I promise all the hard work is worth it. Since the cling peaches do not pull away from the pit you must cut them away from the pit. To do this, I make my slices and then cut the slices off of the pit. See photos.
If you do not want your peaches to turn brown while you are cutting them, you can sprinkle them with "Fresh-Fruit" powder, lemon juice or sprinkle some granulated sugar on them, this is what I do. The cling peaches rarely turn brown within a short period of time.
At this point you will want to start boiling your canning water. Do not overfill your canning pot with water because when you place the jars inside, it will cause water levels to rise.
Next, raw pack the canning jars. To raw pack means that you do not cook the fruit before putting it into the jar. Make your simple syrup, this is the liquid that will go into the jar with the peaches. I prefer extra light or light syrup (the recipe is in the Ball Book). Once your fruit is in the jar, pour your syrup over the peaches leaving 1/2 inch head space. You will then need to remove any air bubbles and clean the jar rim before placing the lid on top. Once you place the lid on top of the jar, adjust the band to screw the lids down just until you start to feel a resistance, so not too tight. This is known as "fingertip-tight".
Place your peach + syrup filled jars into the canning pot. Make sure that the water is covering the jars by about 1 inch.Place lid on pot and bring water to a rolling boil. You will want to process the raw pack pint jars for about 25 minutes or quart jars for about 30. Again, you can find all of this information in the Ball Book.
Once they are finished be sure to remove them from the boiling water with the jar lifter and set them on a cooling rack for 12-24 hours to cool completely.
Happy canning! Much love!