Canning peaches gives me joy and it is easier than you think!
From time to time I feel the strong urge to put up food for winter. I know in this day and age I can walk into the store any day of the year and buy a peach but a peach from across the world in December is not the same as a heavy, perfectly ripe summer peach. Do you know that if a peach is completely ripe even picking it up gently in your hand will bruise it slightly? You just can’t buy that kind of ripeness in the store!
How many jars of peaches will 50 pounds give me?
The general rule of thumb is that 50 pounds (a bushel) of peaches will give you 20-25 quarts when canned. This assumes you are going to slice them in half. While it is pretty to can peach halves I prefer to slice my peaches because I can cram many more into the jars which saves money on jars and lids and saves storage space.
When I order 50 pounds of peaches I make 14 quarts of sliced peaches, and 14 quarts of my grandmother’s amazing spiced peaches which I do can in halves for presentation, and 10 pints of peach jam. I love peach jam and it is a great use for the more bruised peaches I don’t want to can in slices or as spiced peaches.
Can I use pint jars to can peaches?
Yep! You certainly can! For raw pack peaches the processing time for pints is 25 minutes.
How long does it take to can peaches?
I can a few times most summers so I have some experience but I do also stop to look things up from time to time and refresh my memory. Without kids in the house I can put up 50 pounds of peaches in about 8 hours by myself.
How to water bath can peaches:
I have an entire post with my tips and tricks for water bath canning peaches. Even if you are brand new to canning this post will tell you everything you need to know! Don’t miss my fan trick to stay cool! You can great info here.
Raw Pack vs. Hot Pack Peaches
Raw packing is where you fill the jar with fruit and then pour boiling syrup over it before canning the jar. Hot packing is where the fruit is sliced into a pot of syrup and then brought to a boil before loading fruit and syrup into the jars. I have always raw packed but am planning to try a hot pack sometimes. If you have trouble with your peaches floating in the jars hot packing can help.
What If My Canning Peaches Are Still Green?
Sometimes when you order canning peaches from a farm they are sold green and cold from a refrigerator. Peaches should be canned when they are as ripe as possible while still being firm enough to hold up. If yours are green, bring them home and set them out on newspaper or towels on a table in the sun for 2-3 days until they become more yellow/orange/red and start giving off a pleasing peach fragrance that fills the room gently. If you do find yourself canning peaches with a green tinge, try blanching for 45 seconds instead of 30 to make sure the skins still slips off well. Be careful not to squeeze the peaches. Even gentle handling can bruise them.
Tips for ordering canning peaches:
- When I order my peaches I schedule them to pick up when the next five days are all days I could can on. This gives me flexibility to can on the day the peaches are perfect. Nothing is more frustrating than showing up for your peach order with plans to can tomorrow only to discover the peaches are fairly green and won’t be ready for days.
- When you order your peaches ask how long they will take to ripen after you pick them up. A reputable farm will be able to give you a good estimate.
- There are many different varieties of canning peaches. The season will be weather dependent ever year but here in Idaho you can probably get peaches as early as late July and as late as early September. When you order peaches make sure you are ordering a “freestone” variety which means the pit is easy to remove for canning. I’ve been given wrong information by farms before. I suggest looking up the variety you plan to order online to find out what type it is.
Do you have to blanch peaches before you remove the skins?
Blanching just means you drop the fruit in boiling water for a few seconds. This helps the skins slip off easily before canning. When you blanch correctly the fruit won’t cook at all. If your peaches are wonderfully ripe the skins will usually slip right off without blanching. However, in general blanching makes peeling the peaches easier. It is all a mater of personal preference and what works best for the peaches you are working with.
Should I use Light, Medium or Heavy Syrup for Peaches?
When you can, sugar is a preservative. Peaches are generally canned in a sugar syrup to aid in the preserving process but the choice of how sweet a syrup you use is up to you. For the peaches we eat every day I like to use a light syrup. For special occasion jars such as spiced peaches I use a medium or heavy syrup with more sugar. For me it is a personal preference in how much sugar I’m feeding my kids when I’m just trying to serve them fruit as opposed to a time when I’m serving a dessert. I’ve included the directions for all three kinds of syrup in the recipe below. Keep in mind that peaches that are truly ripe and high quality will give you a much sweater result and can probably use a lighter syrup.
What if some liquid leaks out of the jars while they are processing?
It is not unusual for some of the syrup to bubble out of the jars during processing in your water bath canner. If it is just a bit or just enough to leave the top of the fruit uncovered you are fine. However, if half or more than half of the liquid is gone the jars should be refrigerated and eaten right away.
Converting measurements for canning
It can be hard to remember how many cups are in a quart or how many quarts in a gallon and so on and so forth. If you feel muddled Ball has a great conversion chart that can help you out.
What is the shelf life for home canned peaches?
Canning experts suggest 1-2 years. (Check out their information here.) You can look up shelf life stuff at this extension web page or any other you prefer. I use mine for several years when I make extra but I watch for broken seals etc. It really depends on how confident you feel. Just because something is over two years old does not mean it is no longer safe but the risk of botulism can be higher for some foods.
If you have questions about canning or equipment, check out my general canning post. I am also more than happy to answer your questions. Leave a comment and I will get back to you.
How to Can Summer Peaches
- 11 - 12 lbs of peaches
- ice water for the blanching process
- 2 batches of syrup either light, medium, or heavy
- Light Syrup: 2 cups sugar to 1 quart water
- Medium Syrup: 3 cups sugar to 1 quart water
- Heavy Syrup: 4 cups sugar to 1 quart water
- Prepare your water bath canner and clean jars. Start the canner coming to a boil. If it is ready before the fruit you can turn it off. It will come back to a boil very quickly when you are ready.
- Prepare desired sugar syrup by heating water and sugar in a sauce pan until the sugar is dissolved. Set it aside.
- Blanch peaches by dipping in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. I use a fat skimmer and do 5 peaches at a time. Immediately remove the peaches to a sink or bowl with ice water to stop the cooking.
- Fill one jar at a time to keep the peaches from browning. Slit the skin off of the peach. Slice sections of fruit off of the pit and add to the jar. When the jar is full, cover the fruit with hot syrup leaving a 1/2" head space. Remove all air bubbles by shaking, tapping or using a plastic spatula. Air can get trapped where you can't see it in the food and needs to be removed.
- Wipe the rim of the jar clean with a damp rag and put the lid and ring on.
- Load 7 quarts into a boiling water bath canner. Make sure the jars are covered by at least 2" of water.
- Bring the canner back to a boil with the quarts inside. Then process for at least 30 minutes. If you live above 1,000 feet you need to add more time to adjust for altitude. At 1,001 - 3,000 feet add 5 minutes. At 3,001 - 6,000 feet add 10 minutes, 6,001 - 8,000 feet add 15 minutes, at 8,001 - 10,000 feet add 20 minutes
- Remove the jars of peaches to a towel. Allow them to come to room temperature. The lids will seal at this time. Any lids that do not seal need to be processed again or refrigerated and eaten within a week. Sealed jars can be labeled and stored on a shelf out of direct light for years.
Another great peach canning option is to make spiced peaches. My grandmother’s recipe is a rare old fashioned treat that should not be missed by any peach lover.