Let's Preserve: Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines
Glenglo, Ernie’s Choice, Cresthaven, John Boy, Loring, Redhaven, and Sunhigh. Elberta is less acceptable. All are yellow freestone peaches.
A bushel of nectarines or peaches weighs 48 pounds and yields 16 to 24 quarts. An average of 17½ pounds makes a 7-quart canner load; 11 pounds makes 9 pints. A bushel of apricots weighs 50 pounds and yields 20 to 25 quarts. An average of 16 pounds makes a 7-quart canner load; 10 pounds makes 9 pints. An average of 1¼ pounds makes 1 pint of frozen product.
Choose ripe, mature fruit of a quality suitable for eating fresh. Canned hot packs are better than raw packs. Nectarines make poor-quality preserved products.
- Dip peaches (optional for apricots) in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins loosen.
- Dip quickly in cold water and slip off skins.
- Nectarines are not peeled before canning. For freezing, nectarines are washed and peeled without dipping in hot water.
- When freezing apricots if skins are not removed, heat them in boiling water for ½ minute to keep skins from toughening during freezing.
- Cut in half, remove pits, and slice, if desired.
To prevent darkening, keep peeled fruit in water with vitamin C made by mixing 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 1 gallon of water. (If using a commercial ascorbic acid mixture, follow directions on product label.)
Don’t freeze more than 2 pounds of food per cubic foot of freezer capacity per day. These fruits may be packed with syrup or dry sugar.
To Make a Syrup Pack
- Mix and dissolve 2½ cups of sugar and ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid or three crushed 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 4 cups of water.
- Add 1 cup of this syrup to each quart of prepared fruit.
- Pack into plastic freezer containers or tapered wide-mouth jars.
- Press fruit down and add syrup to cover.
- Leave ½ inch of headspace for pints and 1 inch of headspace for quarts.
- Place a small piece of crumpled water-resistant paper or wrapping material on top to hold fruit down. Seal, label, and freeze.
To Make a Dry Sugar Pack
- Mix ½ cup of dry sugar per quart of prepared fruit.
- Stir gently until sugar dissolves or let stand for 15 minutes.
- To slow darkening, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of ascorbic acid dissolved in 3 tablespoons of cold water over each quart of fruit before adding sugar.
- Pack into plastic freezer containers or tapered widemouth jars.
- Allow ½ inch of headspace for pints and 1 inch of headspace for quarts. Seal, label, and freeze.
- Wash jars.
- Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Fruits in jars may be covered with your choice of water, apple or white grape juice, or, more commonly, a very light, light, or medium syrup.
To make a very light syrup for a canner load of quarts.
- Mix 1¼ cups of sugar in 10½ cups of water and heat to dissolve.
- Mix and dissolve 2¼ cups of sugar in 9 cups of water to make a light syrup.
- Mix 3¾ cups of sugar in 8¼ cups of water to make a medium syrup.
- Fill jars with fruit and hot liquid using the hot or raw pack method.
- Remove air bubbles. Leave ½ inch of headspace and wipe sealing edge of jars with a clean, damp paper towel.
- Add lids and tighten screw bands. You may process jars in a boiling water or pressure canner.
To Make a Hot Pack
- Place drained fruit in boiling syrup, juice, or water and bring to a boil.
- Fill clean jars with hot fruit and cooking liquid.
To Make a Raw Pack
To make a raw pack.
- Fill jars with raw fruit, cut side down, and add hot water, juice, or syrup.
To Process in a Boiling Water Canner
- Preheat canner filled halfway with water to 180°F for hot packs or 140°F for raw packs.
- Load sealed jars onto the canner rack and lower with handles, or load one jar at a time with a jar lifter onto rack in canner.
- Add water, if needed, to 1 inch above jars and cover.
- When water boils vigorously, lower heat to maintain a gentle boil and process for recommended time.
- After processing is complete, set canner off heat and remove canner lid.
- Wait 5 minutes before removing jars and placing on a towel or rack.
- Do not retighten screw bands. Air-cool jars for 12 to 24 hours. Remove screw bands and check lid seals.
- If the center of the lid is indented, the jar is sealed. Wash, dry, label, and store jar in a clean, cool, dark place.
- If lid is unsealed, examine and replace jar if defective, use new lid, and reprocess as before.
- Wash screw bands and store separately.
Fruits are best if consumed within a year and are safe as long as the lids remain vacuum sealed.
To Process in a Pressure Canner
- Place jar rack, 2 inches of water, and sealed jars in canner.
- Fasten lid and heat canner on high setting.
- After steam exhausts for 10 minutes, add weighted gauge or close petcock to pressurize the canner.
- Start timing the process when the desired pressure is reached.
- Regulate heat to maintain a uniform pressure.
- When processing is complete, remove canner from heat.
- Air-cool canner until it is fully depressurized. Then slowly remove weighted gauge or open petcock, wait 10 more minutes, and unfasten and carefully remove canner lid.
- Remove jars from canner with a jar lifter and place on a towel or rack.
- Finish cooling and storing as directed in processing in a boiling water canner above.
Recommended process times in a boiling water canner at designated altitudes. Process time (in minutes) at altitudes of:
|Style of pack
||Above 6,000 ft
Recommended process times in a pressure canner at designated altitudes. Canner gauge pressure (in pounds) at altitudes of:
- 0-8,000 ft is using a dial gauge canner
- 0-Above 1,000 ft for Weighted gauge canner
|Style of pack
||Process time (min)
||2,001- 4,000 ft
||4,001-6,000 ft||6,001-8,000 ft
|| 0-1,000 ft
||Above 1,000 ft
|Raw or Hot
||Pint or quart
- Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science
- Nancy Wiker, senior extension educator in Lancaster County
- Martha Zepp, extension project assistant.