Peaches are one of the few remaining fruits that are truly seasonal. The stores may be filled with them now, but soon they will join outdoor swimming pools and picnics as another tantalizing memory of summer. That is, unless you capture them in a jar.
Sure, canned peaches aren’t as good as fresh ones. Not many things are. They are pretty damned good though. Add some vanilla ice cream and you have a very nice mid-winter treat. Spread them in the bottom of the cake pan with a little grated orange or lemon zest before pouring in the batter and you’ve approached the truly sublime. Or do it healthy and use them as a topping for low-fat cottage cheese. Now is the time to act and give these simple steps a try.
I buy a 25 pound box of peaches each year, which is enough for 12 – 15 jars with some left over to eat fresh. It’s not nearly as much work as everyone says, and you can probably borrow the canning supplies from someone who has them gathering dust in their basement.
How to Can Peaches
- 25lbs ripe freestone peaches
- ¾ cup sugar
- ascorbic acid solution (use a prepared powder like “Fruit-Fresh” or simply dissolve 6 500mg vitamin C tablets per gallon of water)
- 12 – 15 pint (500mL) canning jars
- Boil water in a large pot. Arrange a bowl of very cold water nearby.
- Put 3 – 4 peaches into the boiling water until the skins start to wrinkle slightly (about 30 – 50 seconds).
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peaches into the cold water.
- This process will let you easily peel the skin off the peaches. If the skin doesn’t remove easily, you probably didn’t let the peaches sit in the hot water long enough.
- Cut the peaches in half (or smaller sections if you wish).
- Immediately put the peaches in the ascorbic acid solution (or sprinkle with the prepared powder). This step prevents them from going brown, but is optional.
- Meanwhile, prepare a light sugar syrup solution by mixing 6½ cups water and ¾ cup sugar in a pot. Bring the syrup to a boil, and keep it hot on the stove until you’re ready to put the peaches in jars.
- Add the peach sections into clean sterilized canning jars (see my post on canning tomatoes for hints on preparing the jars for canning). They tend to fit better if you put the first section in cut-side down.
- Add a peach pit to each jar if you wish. Many feel this gives a more intense peach-almond flavour.
- Run a knife along the sides of each jar to remove air pockets in the jars.
- Fill the jars with the light syrup solution, being sure to leave ½ inch space at the top of each jar.
- Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean cloth or paper towel before putting on the lids.
- Process in a boiling water canner according to the times shown in the table here for raw pack peaches (25 mins in 500 mL/1 pint canning jars)