Things You'll Need
Sterilized canning jars and lids
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Wire rack or trivet
Canning funnel (optional)
Canning is a useful method of preserving fresh fruit that allows you to enjoy the fruit's peak-season flavor well after the season has passed. Some fruits are better suited for canning than others. For example, strawberries retain their flavor but their delicate texture is compromised. Peaches, on the other hand, are perfectly suited to canning thanks to their firm flesh and resistance to heat. They are best packed hot in syrup or light fruit juice, and can be safely canned in any large pot if you don't own a canner.
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Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Set a bowl of ice water nearby. Working in small batches, drop the peaches into the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds to loosen their skins. Drop the blanched peaches into the ice water immediately to stop the cooking process.
Repeat until all the peaches have been scalded. Drain the peaches and rub the skins off, using the tip of a paring knife if necessary for any small areas that are reluctant to peel off.
Boil a light or medium syrup of 2 or 3 cups of sugar respectively per 6 cups of water. Heavy syrup will make the peaches float, exposing them to air and causing discoloration.
Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Slice some or all of the peaches, if desired. Add the peaches to the boiling syrup, and simmer them for five minutes.
Pack the peaches loosely into sterilized canning jars. A canning funnel makes this easier, but it can be done with a ladle. To prevent browning, sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) into each jar.
Cover the peaches with the rest of the hot syrup, leaving 1 inch of space at the top of each jar. Place a sterilized lid on each jar, and tighten as much as possible by hand.
Choose a pot that can accommodate a wire rack or trivet in the bottom with minimal space between the rack and the edges. It is important for the rack or trivet to hold the jars upright while they are processed.
Fill the pot halfway with hot water from your tap. Place it on the stove, and turn your burner to medium-high. When the water is at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit, load the jars into the pot. If there is not enough water to cover them completely to a depth of 1 or 2 inches, add more boiling water to the pot.
Bring the pot to a full boil. Begin timing as soon as the water boils, and keep the water at a full boil throughout the entire canning process. Pint jars of peaches will require 20 minutes at sea level, and quart jars require 25 minutes.
Turn off the heat at the end of your processing time. Remove the jars from the pot, and allow them to cool in a warm, draft-free place until they reach room temperature.
Test the jars to ensure they have sealed properly by pressing the middle of each lid with your finger. If the lid is concave and does not buckle when you press it, you have a good seal. If the lid buckles and bounces back, the jar did not seal. The peaches can be refrigerated and eaten, or you can re-process the jar with a fresh lid. If it still does not seal, eat the peaches and discard the jar.
Store the jars in a cool, dark place where the temperature will remain reasonably consistent. Discard any jars that lose their seal, develop mold or bubble and ferment.
Most sources list the quantity of peaches you'll need in terms of standard canner loads. When you're not using a canner, allow approximately 2 1/2 lbs. of peaches per quart, or 5 lbs. for four pints.
Ascorbic acid can be purchased at health food and bulk food stores, or you can crush vitamin C tablets. Commercial anti-browning powders are also available where canning supplies are sold.
Choose perfectly ripe, fresh unblemished fruit for canning. When possible, use freestone rather than clingstone peaches. The flesh of a freestone peach does not cling to the pit, making them easier to prepare.