Let's Preserve: Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines

Find the best varieties of fruit to choose when canning or freezing, plus learn the proper techniques for successful preservation.
Let's Preserve: Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines - Articles


Recommended Varieties

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.


  1. Dip peaches (optional for apricots) in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins loosen.
  2. Dip quickly in cold water and slip off skins.
  3. Nectarines are not peeled before canning. For freezing, nectarines are washed and peeled without dipping in hot water.
  4. When freezing apricots if skins are not removed, heat them in boiling water for ½ minute to keep skins from toughening during freezing.
  5. 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.)

Freezing Procedure

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

  1. 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.
  2. Add 1 cup of this syrup to each quart of prepared fruit.
  3. Pack into plastic freezer containers or tapered wide-mouth jars.
  4. Press fruit down and add syrup to cover.
  5. Leave ½ inch of headspace for pints and 1 inch of headspace for quarts.
  6. 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

  1. Mix ½ cup of dry sugar per quart of prepared fruit.
  2. Stir gently until sugar dissolves or let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. To slow darkening, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of ascorbic acid dissolved in 3 tablespoons of cold water over each quart of fruit before adding sugar.
  4. Pack into plastic freezer containers or tapered widemouth jars.
  5. Allow ½ inch of headspace for pints and 1 inch of headspace for quarts. Seal, label, and freeze.

Canning Procedure

  1. Wash jars.
  2. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's instructions.
  3. 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.

  1. Mix 1¼ cups of sugar in 10½ cups of water and heat to dissolve.
  2. Mix and dissolve 2¼ cups of sugar in 9 cups of water to make a light syrup.
  3. Mix 3¾ cups of sugar in 8¼ cups of water to make a medium syrup.
  4. Fill jars with fruit and hot liquid using the hot or raw pack method.
  5. Remove air bubbles. Leave ½ inch of headspace and wipe sealing edge of jars with a clean, damp paper towel.
  6. Add lids and tighten screw bands. You may process jars in a boiling water or pressure canner.

To Make a Hot Pack

  1. Place drained fruit in boiling syrup, juice, or water and bring to a boil.
  2. Fill clean jars with hot fruit and cooking liquid.

To Make a Raw Pack

To make a raw pack.

  1. Fill jars with raw fruit, cut side down, and add hot water, juice, or syrup.

To Process in a Boiling Water Canner

  1. Preheat canner filled halfway with water to 180°F for hot packs or 140°F for raw packs.
  2. 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.
  3. Add water, if needed, to 1 inch above jars and cover.
  4. When water boils vigorously, lower heat to maintain a gentle boil and process for recommended time.
  5. After processing is complete, set canner off heat and remove canner lid.
  6. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars and placing on a towel or rack.
  7. Do not retighten screw bands. Air-cool jars for 12 to 24 hours. Remove screw bands and check lid seals.
  8. If the center of the lid is indented, the jar is sealed. Wash, dry, label, and store jar in a clean, cool, dark place.
  9. If lid is unsealed, examine and replace jar if defective, use new lid, and reprocess as before.
  10. 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

  1. Place jar rack, 2 inches of water, and sealed jars in canner.
  2. Fasten lid and heat canner on high setting.
  3. After steam exhausts for 10 minutes, add weighted gauge or close petcock to pressurize the canner.
  4. Start timing the process when the desired pressure is reached.
  5. Regulate heat to maintain a uniform pressure.
  6. When processing is complete, remove canner from heat.
  7. 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.
  8. Remove jars from canner with a jar lifter and place on a towel or rack.
  9. Finish cooling and storing as directed in processing in a boiling water canner above.
Table 1. Recommended process times in a boiling water canner at designated altitudes. Process time (in minutes) at altitudes of:
Style of packJar size0-1,000 ft1,001-3,000 ft3,001-6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
Table 2. 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 packJar sizeProcess time (min)0-2,000 ft2,001- 4,000 ft4,001-6,000 ft6,001-8,000 ft0-1,000 ftAbove 1,000 ft
Raw or HotPint or quart106789510

Prepared by Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science; Nancy Wiker, senior extension educator; and Martha Zepp, extension project assistant.