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How to can peaches

Thursday, July 31, 2003

By Rebecca Sodergren

Equipment used for canning peaches

WATER-BATH CANNER, also called a boiling-water canner. Foods high in acid can be processed in one of these; nonacidic foods, such as green beans, must be processed in a pressure canner (also called a steam-pressure canner).

A water-bath canner is a large pot containing a wire rack that separates the jars to keep them from knocking against one another and breaking during processing.

JARS. Pints or quarts may be used. Jars are glass, sometimes called Mason jars and are typically sold in boxes of 12. They may be washed and reused.

CLOSURES. Lids (they fit over the opening of the jar) and bands (rings that twist to keep the lids in place) are used.

Lids cannot be reused; bands may be reused if they're not rusty.

JAR LIFTER (optional). Rubber-coated tongs with heat-resistant handle for lifting hot jars.

JAR FUNNEL (optional). This is great for ladling syrup so you don't make a sticky mess.

PLASTIC SPATULA (optional). Used to slide between jar and peaches to remove air bubbles. May use a knife instead.

LID WAND (optional). Has a magnetized tip and plastic handle for lifting lids from hot water.

Online resources

Here are a few Web sites that could be useful for home canners.

www.homecanning.com -- perhaps the premier site. Canning instructions, recipes, products for sale, newsletters on canning topics, site links.

www.canning-food-recipes.com. -- canning instructions, canning cookbooks, equipment descriptions.

www.homecanningsupply.com -- canning products for sale by telephone order.

www.lehmans.com -- this is where we found our low-cost water-bath canner online. This site also sells a beginner's home canning kit that includes canner, jars, accessories and an instruction book.

Canning instructions

  • 2 to 3 pounds peaches per quart jar of canned peaches (see notes)
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Fruit Fresh

To prepare peaches: Wash peaches; dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds; immediately dip in cold water. Slip off peels. Cut in half; pit and scrape cavity to remove fibers (see notes).

For raw pack peaches (this is the kind we made): Treat peaches to prevent darkening. (We soaked the peeled, halved peaches in a solution of 3 quarts water to 2 tablespoons Fruit Fresh until ready to place peaches in jars.) Make an extra-light, light or medium syrup (see below); keep syrup hot. Drain peaches. Pack peaches cavity side down, layers overlapping, into hot jars (you may heat your water-bath canner and heat the jars in it while you prepare the peaches, then return the filled jars to the same hot water later), leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup over peaches, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles using a knife or other long, flat implement. Adjust two-piece caps (lids and bands). Process pints 25 minutes or quarts 30 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

For hot-pack peaches: Treat peaches to prevent darkening. Make a medium or heavy syrup. Drain peaches. Cook peaches one layer at a time in syrup until peaches are hot throughout. Pack hot peaches into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup over peaches, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, in boiling-water canner.

Tester's notes: There are about 20 to 25 pounds of peaches in a half bushel. With one half bushel, we made seven quarts of canned peaches and had enough peaches left over to make three-quart-size bags of sliced peaches for the freezer.

Try to get a "freestone" variety of peaches -- the kind that come off the pit easily. If you must use cling peaches, you may 1) make peach slices instead of halves; 2) use a pitting spoon; or 3) cut through to the stone with a knife, along the peach crease, and then twist the peach to get the halves apart (this can be tricky).

We used freestone peaches and did not scrape fibers from the pit cavities. Fibers can sometimes turn brownish during storage, but we have not experienced this problem even with peaches that have been on the shelf for a year.

Syrups:

Extra-light: 1 1/4 cups sugar to 5 1/2 cups water.

Light: 2 1/4 cups sugar to 5 1/4 cups water.

Medium: 3 1/4 cups sugar to 5 cups water.

Heavy: 4 1/4 cups sugar to 4 1/4 cups water.

To make 7 quarts of peaches, we used 1 1/2 batches of extra-light syrup. It is also possible to can peaches in apple or white grape juice.

"Ball Blue Book: Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration"

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