Let’s Can Peaches During August, Peach Month

Image courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Sevice.

Fresh, juicy, naturally sweet peaches are among my favorite summertime fruits. They are “in season” in late summer, which means they are at their best quality and, often, best price. In fact, August is Peach Month. Peaches are a good source of vitamins C and A. Vitamin C plays a vital role in healing wounds, and vitamin A helps keep our skin and eyes healthy.

 Enjoy some delicious peaches next winter by preserving them now. Have you ever tried water-bath canning? It’s easier than you may think. Here are the step-by-step instructions for canning them.

1.      Get Ready to Can

Before beginning to prepare fruit for canning, fill the water-bath canner about half full of clean water. For hot-packed food, preheat the water in the canner to about 180 F. Use a rack in the canner.

  • Wash canning jars with hot, soapy water, then keep them hot in the canner of hot water on the stove.
  • Heat lids as recommended by the manufacturer.
    • Note: Boiling the lids may result in failed seals.
    • Heat a kettle of water for dipping peaches to remove their skin.
    • Prepare an anti-darkening mixture, such as an ascorbic acid solution, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
      • Pure ascorbic acid is available in powdered form or as a mixture of ascorbic and citric acid in the canning section of grocery stores.

2.      Choose High-quality Peaches

Choose ripe, mature fruit of ideal quality for eating fresh or cooking. Avoid fruit with bruises or spoilage. You will use about 2½ pounds of fresh peaches to yield 1 quart of canned peaches.

3.      Prepare Peaches for Canning

  • Dip peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until the skin loosens. Dip quickly in cold water and slip off skin.
  • Cut peaches in half, remove the pits and slice if desired.
  • Keep peeled fruit in ascorbic acid solution.
  • Prepare and boil syrup and pack peaches. Alternatively, you can pack peaches in water, apple juice or white grape juice.

Prepare Syrup

  • Heat water and sugar together as shown in Table 1. Bring to a boil and pour over raw fruits in jars. For hot packs, bring the water and sugar to a boil, add fruit, reheat to boiling and fill into jars immediately.
  • Other types of syrup can be found on “Home Canning Fruit and Fruit Products,” FN174, available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn174.pdf.

 

Table 1. Measures of Water and Sugar for 9-pint Load*

Syrup Type Percent Sugar Cups Water Cups Sugar
Light 20

*Adequate for 4 quarts

5.      Pack the Peaches in Jars. Either of these methods can be used, but hot pack produces better-quality canned peaches:

Hot pack – In a large saucepan, place drained fruit in syrup, water or juice and bring to a boil. Fill jars with hot fruit and cooking liquid, leaving ½ inch of head space. Place halves in layers, cut side down.

Raw pack – Fill jars with raw fruit, cut side down, and add hot water, juice or syrup, leaving ½ inch of head space. Adjust the lids and process according to Table 2.

6.      Fill the Jars and Process

  1. Fill jars, leaving ½ inch of head space. After filling the jars with peaches, remove trapped air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula, adjusting head space if needed.
  2. Wipe the rim of each jar carefully with a cloth or paper towel and apply the lid and screw ring. Do not overtighten the screw ring. It should be only “finger tight” or the lids may not seal properly.
  3. Place the jars in the canner using a jar lifter positioned below the screw band of the lid. Keep the jars upright at all times.
  4. Add boiling water, as needed, to bring the water level at least 1 inch over the jar tops.
  5. Begin timing when the water boils. Keep the canner covered during processing.
  6. The water should remain boiling at all times.
  7. When the processing time is complete, carefully remove the jars from the canner, using a jar lifter. Place the jars at least 1 inch apart on cooling racks or towels to cool at least 12 hours. Do not retighten the screw rings. Do not expose the jars to a cold surface or cold drafts, which could lead to cracking or breaking.
  8. Test seals the next day. A concave lid that does not move when pressed indicates you have a good seal. Remove the screw rings. Label sealed jars with the contents and canning date.
  9. Unsealed jars may be reprocessed safely within 24 hours.

 Table 2. Processing Time for Preserving Peaches in a Boiling Water-bath Canner.

 

      Processing Time (minutes) and Altitude
Product Style of Pack Jar Size 0-2,000 feet 2,000-4,000 feet 4,001-6,000 feet
Peaches, halved or sliced Hot Pints 20 25 30
    Quarts 25 30 35
Peaches, halved or sliced Raw Pints 25 30 35
    Quarts 30 35 40

 For best quality, store in a cool, dark place and use within one year.

 For more information, see http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn174.pdf

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