Martha Zepp, Penn State University
When it comes to the type of peach, many new varieties are available so be sure to ask the grower how a specific variety will perform. Standard recommendations include Glenglo, Ernie’s Choice, Cresthaven, John Boy, Loring, Redhaven and Sunhigh.
Penn State Extension’s Let’s Preserve Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines provides detailed instructions on selection, preparation and processing of this delicious fruit.
Additional Points to Keep in Mind when Canning Peaches
Preparing the Peaches
- After heating in boiling water for 30 to 60 second to loosen the skin, the cold-water dip is critical to stop the cooking process.
- To prevent browning during the peeling/cutting process use one of the recommended methods to acidify the water.
- Peaches can be halved, quartered or sliced for canning. If you are canning large peaches, you may choose to use wide mouth jars to avoid bruising the peach when placing them in the jar.
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 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 you like. 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 they be added when the fruit is 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 use in home canning of peaches.
Method of Pack and Processing
While peaches may be either raw or hot packed, hot packing results in a better product.
- 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 lodge between the jar and the sealing compound of the lid causing seal failure.
- Because air is driven out of the tissues of the hot packed peaches prior to being placed in the jar, 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.
- You will use less syrup when you hot pack because heating the peaches will draw peach juice into the boiling syrup or liquid.
- Follow recommended procedures for water bathing canning and processing times based on type of pack and altitude.
- Peaches may also be pressure canned according to recommended guidelines.
By following 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.