Perfect Canned Peaches
Posted: July 17, 2012
Preparing the Peaches
Wash and drain the peaches. Loosen the skins by dipping the peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Follow with a cold water dip to stop the cooking process. The skins should then pull off easily. Peaches may be cut in half, quartered, or sliced. To prevent browning of the peaches during the peeling process, keep peeled peaches in acidified water. Mix 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid crystals or finely crush six 500 mg Vitamin C tablets in one gallon of water. You can also use a commercial anti-darkening product by following the manufacturer’s directions.
Peaches may be packed into the jars raw or hot. Raw packing is a safe method but generally results in a poorer product than hot packed peaches. Raw packed peaches float to the top of the jar, and the jars usually lose a lot of the juice (along with flavor) through siphoning. When siphoning occurs, tiny food fibers sometimes get lodged between the jar and the sealing compound of the lid causing sealing failure. Because air is driven out of the tissues of the raw peach when it is heated, hot packed peaches are less likely to float, more peaches fit into the jar, and the juice is less likely to boil out when jars are removed from the canner.
Sweetening with Sugar Syrups
Peaches may be covered with your choice of sugar syrup, water, or apple or white grape juice. Sugar is not needed for safety in canning fruit; but in addition to adding flavor, sugar in the liquid helps to keep the texture of the fruit firm and to preserve the color. If you want to reduce the amount of sugar, experiment to find the least amount of sugar that gives you a product that you like. Medium syrup for a canner load of quarts uses 3¾ cups of sugar in 8¼ cups of water. Light syrup uses 2¼ cups of sugar in 9 cups of water. Very light syrup is made with 1¼ cups of sugar and 10½ cups water. Heavier sugar syrups will cause fruit to float more than lighter syrups or juice packs. Try a lighter syrup, water pack or juice pack to see what is acceptable to your family.
Canning with Sugar Substitutes
Artificial sweeteners will not have the beneficial effects of sugar on the color and firmness of the fruit. If you choose to use artificial sweeteners, it is generally recommended that they be added when the fruit is being served. Aspartame (example: NutraSweet®) is not stable when heated during processing. Saccharin may become bitter when used in canning. A research study by the University of Georgia concluded that peaches canned in either full-strength medium Splenda® syrup or half-strength medium Splenda® syrup is suitable for home canning peaches. Peaches canned with Splenda® using USDA canning instructions retain quality and shelf life for at least one year when stored between 50-70°F in a dry place away from strong light. While stevia is stable to heat, no research studies have been done to determine its safety and quality in home canning.
Method of Pack and Processing
To hot pack peaches, place enough peaches for one or two jars into the boiling syrup, water, or juice and return to a boil. You will use less syrup when you hot pack because heating the peaches will draw peach juice into the boiling syrup or liquid. If you don’t heat the peaches through completely, they may still shrink a little, but not as much as if you had raw packed them. Remove the peaches carefully and fill the jars to within ½ inch of the top. Add hot syrup or other liquid to within ½ inch of top. Remove air bubbles, wipe the jar rim with a wet paper towel, and adjust lids. Process hot packed pints 20 minutes and quarts 25 minutes in a boiling water bath. Adjust times for higher altitudes.
To raw pack, fill jars with raw fruit, cut side down, and add hot water, juice or syrup. Leave ½ inch headspace for both fruit and liquid. Raw packed peaches require an additional 5 minutes for processing. Process pints 25 minutes and quarts 30 minutes in a boiling water bath. Adjust times for higher altitudes.
After processing in a boiling water bath is complete, set canner off heat and remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars. This will equalize the temperature within the jar and reduce liquid loss from the jar. Place jars on a towel or rack. Allow jars to cool at least 12 hours; remove screw bands and check lid seals. Wash jars, label, and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Peaches may be pressure canned for 10 minutes at 6 pounds pressure in a dial gauge canner or 5 pounds pressure in a weighted gauge canned. Adjust for high altitudes. This is suitable for both raw and hot packed peaches.
With proper canning procedures, you can enjoy this quality tasty fruit all year. Peaches are best if consumed within a year and are safe as long as the lids remain vacuum sealed.
You may also be interested in Penn State's "Let’s Preserve Peaches, Apricots and Nectarines."