Peaches are in full swing right now and it's the perfect time to use them in your baking, cooking and canning. They are so sweet, delicious and juicy this time of year. Even though fresh peaches are only available for a few months in the summer, there's no reason you can't enjoy them all year long. Just choose some fresh ripe peaches, grab a few jars, a little sugar, and you'll be on your way to preserving these delightful beauties in no time. This winter you can look forward to savoring them right out of the jar, as an ice cream topping, or even in a dessert.
Things You'll Need
20 pounds of a freestone variety of peaches (Red Haven, Red Globe, O'Henry, Elberta, Angelus, or Canadian Harmony are all good varieties)
6 cups water
3 cups sugar
7 or 8 quart canning jars with 2-piece lids
Remove the skins from the peaches by scalding them in boiling water for 15 seconds, then dunk them quickly into ice cold water. The skins should slip off easily. Halve the peach and remove the pit. Leave the peaches in halves or slice them. Place the prepared peaches in lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Make a simple syrup with 6 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. The sugar will help the peaches retain texture and color. It also adds to the sweetness of the fruit. 2 parts water to 1 part sugar is considered a thin syrup.
Fill the sterilized quart jars with peaches and leave a 1/2-inch of headroom in each jar. Add the boiling simple syrup leaving a 1/2-inch of headroom. Wipe around the rim of each jar with a clean wet cloth.
You can use the dishwasher to sterilize the jars. Just wash and set the dry cycle to high heat. Leave them in the dishwasher until you are ready to use them. If you don't have a dishwasher, you can wash the jars with hot soapy water, rinse, then place them upside down on the steam canner shelf for a few minutes and the steam will sterilize them.
Place a sterilized 2-piece lid on each jar. To sterilize the lids, place them in a small pan with boiling water until you're ready to use them.
Set each jar on the shelf of the steam canner. Cover the jars with the steam canner lid. Bring the canner water to a boil and process for 25 minutes. Start the timer when the steam starts to come out of the hole in the canner lid.
When the jars have processed for 25 minutes, remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel. As they cool, you will start to hear the jar lids pinging. This means they are sealing. After an hour or so of cooling, you can check to see if the jar has sealed by running your finger along the center of the lid. If it springs back, the jar isn't sealed and should be placed in the refrigerator. A sealed jar of peaches should last at least 18 months when kept in a cool dry place. An unsealed jar of peaches will last about a week or so in the refrigerator.