Today I’m going to share a how to can peaches tutorial using the water bath canning method. This is how I can my peaches every year that I buy at a local orchard. I like to use Red Haven peaches. I try to buy the smaller ones for several reasons. First, its cheaper. The orchard I usually buy them at sells the smaller peaches for less. Secondly, they fit better in the jars. And third, I think you end up getting more peaches that way, rather than when you purchase the larger-sized ones.
Typically, from a bushel of peaches, I can about 14 quarts. It actually yields more than that, but often I don’t feel like canning anymore at that point. 🙂 We might try to eat the rest. Admittedly, I also usually have some peaches go bad that get tossed, because of not canning soon enough or using in some way. This year I’ve canned a total of 23 quarts, although one jar did not seal. I’ve also made peach jam and we’ve eaten some. I can’t remember for sure, but I think I’ve bought 2 1/4 bushels of peaches this year.
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Preparing For Canning
You should be aware that not always is fruit ready to be immediately canned after purchased from the orchard. Sometimes it will need to ripen a bit first. An easy way to do this is to spread the fruit out on some newspaper. Just keep checking it for ripeness by feeling the fruit to see if is slightly soft to touch and not showing a green tinge anymore. If you have a little ripe, but not enough for canning, you may want to just eat those so they don’t go bad like some of mine.
Once you have enough peaches ready to can, you’ll need to wash them. I typically just do this by rubbing them under a faucet of cool, running water.
You will also need to gather all your equipment. To can peaches with the water bath method here’s what you’ll need.
- A *water bath canner or other large pot
- A rack inside the canner to keep jars off the bottom (the link above has the rack included with the canner)
- *Quart canning jars or pint-sized mason canning jars (I prefer the wide mouth quart size for peaches.)
- *Canning lids and rings
- *Jar-lifter utensil
- Glass measuring cup
- Large bowls
- A pot to make syrup in
- Sharp knife
- *Cutting board
- Chopsticks or plastic utensil to release air bubbles
- Tongs are handy to pick up hot lids
Once your equipment is gathered, wash all the jars and rings in hot, soapy water and rinse. The jars do not need to be sterilized, since you will be water bath canning for greater than 10 minutes. Just before I use my flat lids, I boil them in a saucepan of water. I also fill my water bath canner about three-quarter’s full of water and start heating it.
Glass quart mason jars. Lids and rings.
My water bath canner and rack that goes inside.
Peeling and Preparing The Fruit
Next you are ready to prepare the fruit to be stacked in the jars. There’s a bit of an art to stacking and fitting neatly, but it isn’t critical. The best thing is to waste as little space as possible. That’s why the smaller fruit is nicer for stacking. So grab your cutting board and cut into the peach all the way around the “seam” that all peaches have in the middle.
If your fruit is ripe enough, you will now be able to pick up the peach, and grab both halves. Gently twist and pull them apart. Then you can remove the peach pit with your fingers. Sometimes that will totally be intact, other times it will also have split in half when you separated the peach. I then peel my peach.
Then you will stack them in the clean jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace from the top of the jar per Blue Ball Book of Preserving.
After some jars are filled with stacked peaches, I will start making a hot syrup to cover the fruit. I use a 4:1 ratio, but you can vary the amount according to my Ball canning book. I use 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar and bring it to a boil. You will need to keep this syrup hot on the stove. When you have seven full jars, add the syrup to each jar again leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Use the chopstick or plastic utensil to loosen air bubbles. This is a step I have often skipped but it is recommended. (I read about using these particular items from different people online, not sure who to credit. My Ball canning book recommends a “nonmetallic spatula”.)
Then wipe down the jar rims with a clean cloth. I use a pair of tongs to grab my hot lids from the saucepan of water and set them on top the rims. The rings then go on top of those and screwed on to just what is known as “finger tight”. I have a tendency to overtighten, but be careful not to do that. You might need a dishtowel or hot mitt to hang onto the jars for this because of the hot syrup.
Water Bath Canning
Once all the jars have their lids and rings in place, they are ready to be canned. Make sure the water in the canner is already boiling before you place them in it. I use the jar lifter to place each jar into the boiling water. Wait until the water returns to steady boiling before setting your timer for 30 minutes. The lid should be on top the canner and all the jars should be covered by 1-2 inches of water. See Using Boiling Water Canners by National Center for Home Food Preservation.
When the time is up, remove the lid from the canner. Again, use the jar lifter carefully to pick up the jars, and I place mine on a folded dishtowel on the counter. It is recommended to turn off the heat and wait a few minutes before removing the jars by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I actually did not know this. But recently I heard about waiting to remove the jars in a Facebook canning group I joined. One of the members mentioned it helped reduce fluid leaking out of the jars, which is a problem I have. I’ve blamed it on making my jar lids too tight. Lately, I also thought it might be due to not removing my air bubbles before canning. It’s good to continue learning to better your canning practices.
Personally, I might keep the heat on if I have another batch to can. But it’s always best to follow the recommendations from official canning authorities.
Once the jars are all removed and placed on the towel, I try not to have any of them touching each other. They need to sit undisturbed to cool for about 24 hours before the rings are removed. I find that I need to wash my peach jars then before storing, so they aren’t sticky from syrup that overflowed during the process.
Of course don’t forget to admire your hard work, before labeling and storing the jars! Enjoy your peaches all next winter!
Blue Ball Book of Preserving 2005
I also picked up some tips shared in this post from members of the Facebook group Canning, where they try to promote safe canning practices. If you’re interested in canning consider joining them!