Canning peaches at home preserves the taste, texture, and quality of fresh peaches. The peaches you buy in a can at the grocery store don’t even compare in flavor. It’s so worth the time it takes to bottle them at home.
This recipe comes to you straight from the person who cans the best peaches in the world – our Mom, Linda Edwards. Her peaches stay bright, fresh, and flavorful in the bottles for months. I say “months” because they get eaten before they have time to sit on the shelf for years. During the cold winter months, when fresh fruit is hard to come by, these peaches are so refreshing and the bottles disappear quickly. We asked our Mom to share her secrets for the best canned peaches with us, and she was happy to do so. These are her methods and tips.
What are the Best Peaches for Canning?
I like to use the Elberta peaches that come on in September. They are a free-stone variety and are easy to work with. Free-stone peaches slip right away from the pit, or stone. Cling-stone peaches need to be cut away from the pit, which isn’t a problem either. This recipe works with any variety of peaches you have on hand or prefer.
The most important thing is to use ripe peaches. If the peach is hard and greenish in color, wait a day or two to do your canning. I often can the ripe ones the first day and wait a day or two to can the rest when they have ripened.
Canning Peaches in Light Syrup
A light syrup is really the best for canning peaches. Too much sugar can overpower the fresh flavor of the peaches. For my recipe, I use a 2:1 water to sugar ratio. I also use Fruit-Fresh, which contains citric acid, to keep my peaches looking bright and to prevent browning. I use 1 teaspoon of Fruit-Fresh per cup of syrup.
Sterilizing the Canning Jars
The best and easiest way I have found to sterilize my glass bottles for canning is to run them through a normal dishwasher cycle. I place the canning jar lids in a pot of warm water and simmer them until I’m ready to use them.
How to Can Peaches at Home
Prepare for Canning
- Sterilize canning jars by running them through a cycle in the dishwasher.
- Place the canning lids in a pan of warm water and simmer until ready to use.
- Fill a large pot with hot water and bring it to a boil on the stove.
- Fill the sink with cold water.
- In another large pot, combine the 12 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup Fruit-Fresh and set aside for later.
Prepare the Peaches
- Carefully place several peaches in the large pot of boiling water. All peaches should be totally covered by water.
- Set a timer for one minute. Remove the peaches from the boiling water and place them in the sink filled with cold water.
- Repeat this process until all the peaches are in the cold water.
- Add 1 quart of cold water and 1/2 cup of lemon juice to a large bowl.
- At this point, peeling the peaches should be easy. The peach skins should slide off without even using a knife. If the a peach is less ripe, it may require a little peeling.
- Cut the peaches in half or slice them and remove the pits. Place the halved or sliced peaches in the large bowl filled with water and lemon juice. Stir the peaches into the water and lemon juice as you slice them to avoid discoloration.
Canning the Peaches
- Place the sterilized jars right side up on a large cookie sheet. This helps keep spills to a minimum.
- Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar.
- Pour 1 cup of the light syrup into each jar.
- Fill each jar with the halved or sliced peaches. Leave 1/2 inch at the top of each jar.
- Add more syrup to fill the empty spaces between the peaches and to cover the fruit. There should still be 1/2 inch unfilled space at the top of each jar. You will likely have some light syrup left over after filling the jars.
- It's important to get all of the trapped air bubbles out of the jar before sealing. Slide a clean knife down the inside of the jar in four or five places to release the bubbles.
- Clean any syrup from the jar rim before placing the heated lids on the jars.
- Use a magnetic lid wand or fork to carefully remove a canning lid from the simmering water on the stove. Do not dry it or touch the lid with your bare hands. It will be hot and you don't want to contaminate it. Place it directly on the top of the jar as pictured.
- Tighten the screw rings firmly on each jar.
Processing the Peaches
- Fill a water bath canner 1/2 full with warm water.
- Place the jars on the wire rack and lower the jars into the canner.
- Add more water to cover the jars with 1 inch of water above the jars.
- Cover with a lid, and watch for it to boil.
- Once it reaches the boiling point, set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to the point where the water is still boiling, but not at a raging boil that makes a sauna in your kitchen and a mess on the stove.
- When the time is up, remove the jars from the boiling water and let them cool on a counter in a non-drafty area.
- Once jars have cooled, make sure they have sealed properly and store them in a cool, dark place.
- 6 Sterilized Glass Quart Canning Jars and Lids (wide-mouth jars are easiest to use)
- Water Bath Canner
- Magnetic Lid Wand or Fork