Peach season is going to be over before we know it where I live, so this is post is coming in the nick of time! Our family generally cans peaches every other year, and this happened to be a peach canning year! It is a whole family affair for us. Yes, there are people who can peaches on their own. But we prefer to do it altogether. The process seems to flow so much more smoothly!
We always get our peaches from a local orchard, K. Schlegel Fruit Farm. I may be slightly biased, but their fruit is the best in our area. The peaches this year were huge!
I worked with my parents to can peaches this year. Usually my brother helps as well, but he lives too far away to just come over for peach canning!
We purchased a half bushel of peaches, which yielded 14 quarts. Prepare more jars than you think you will need. It is better to be prepared than to be scampering around trying to wash and heat jars at the last-minute!
Before we began, we set up a propane two-burner outdoor camping stove that my parents purchased a few years back. This stove comes in handy when canning foods that require several stove burners, as well as on hot days to avoid heating up the kitchen. (You can purchase a stove like theirs here.)
The first thing we began heating was the syrup. We like to use a light syrup for our peaches, so we mixed 20 cups of water with 5 cups of sugar, making a 4:1 ratio (for every four cups of water, we added 1 cup of sugar). We used raw sugar, making the syrup more of a brown color. Regular granulated sugar works fine, and provides a clearer syrup. If you would like a sweeter, thicker syrup, you can add more sugar (perhaps 1 cup of sugar per 2 cups of water). If you prefer more of an extra light syrup, you could lower the sugar level, even as low as 12:1 or 16:1 (which would be 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of sugar).
While the syrup was heating, we also heated up the jars in the oven and the lids and rings in a saucepan on the stove. For more details about basic water bath canning procedures, you can check out this post.
We also started boiling water to blanch the peaches in. We ran cold water into the sink and added ice to cool it down, so we could shock the peaches after taking them out of the boiling water.
Once we had everything set in its proper place, we assigned responsibilities. I blanched the peaches. My dad peeled and pitted the peaches. My mom filled the jars with peaches and syrup.
I started out using a collapsible strainer for easy removal of peaches from the boiling water. But I quickly learned that more peaches fit in the pot without the strainer. So, I switched to using a slotted spoon to fish the peaches out of the water!
We left the peaches in the boiling water for 2 minutes. I started with three minutes, but the peaches seemed to be getting a little too soft for my dad to handle and twist the pits out of.
After removing the peaches from the boiling water, I immediately dunked the peaches into the ice water. I did not start my next batch of peach blanching until the water returned to a boil.
Once the peaches were in the sink, my dad took over. He cut the peaches in half, and twisted each side until they came apart. As he was doing this, the skins slid right off the fruit.
If you are doing peaches on your own, you will need to place the peaches in water with lemon juice to prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown. I have also read that you can dissolve Vitamin C tablets (ascorbic acid) in water and it keeps fruit from browning. If you have tried this method, you can comment and let everyone know how it works!
Since we had three people working together, my mom took the peaches, sliced them into quarters, and packed them into jars right away, and then filled the jars with syrup. Usually, we slice the peaches in half, but because they were so large this time, we cut them in fourths. To keep the jars warm, she put them back in the oven until there were enough jars to fill a canner.
Once the jars were filled, we processed them for 25 minutes. Processing time is 20 minutes for pints. I would advise canning in quarts, mainly because of the size of peaches. It may be difficult to fit a good amount of peaches into pints. And after you open a jar, the peaches will keep in the fridge for a few days. I also recommend using wide mouth jars. It makes packing the jars much simpler.
Dad used a jar grabber to remove the jars from the canner.
We left the jars cool on the back porch. We used cookie cooling racks to set the jars on, so that air could circulate to all sides of the jars to cool.
We had some peaches left over that we did not process, we just put into jars, filled with syrup, and stored in the refrigerator to eat. And of course, we had to sample some! Mom had an angel food cake on hand, so we sliced some peaches over the cake and enjoyed a sweet snack after all of our hard work!
Canned peaches are very versatile. They taste great straight from the jar. But they are also delicious with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! They can be used in peach cobbler or peach crisp. I like to cut them up and mix them in plain Greek yogurt for a morning snack. Or, they taste great sliced up over a pound cake or angel food cake.
￼Do you can peaches? Do you like light or heavy syrup? Do you prefer to process them alone or with several other helpers? How do you like to enjoy the peaches after they have been canned? I would love to hear your feedback so feel free to comment!
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Yield: 14-16 quarts
½ bushel peaches
20 cups water
5 cups sugar
Boil water and sugar.
Blanch and peel peaches. Slice and pack jars.
Fill jars with syrup.
Wipe the rim with a clean cloth. Set on lid and screw on ring.
Process 25 minutes in water bath canner.