I learned an invaluable lesson in canning peaches today: Do NOT try canning unripe peaches. You’ll wish you’d never been born.
When I started this project earlier today, I was all excited about how easy it was going to be. Everything I read bragged of the joys of canning peaches. You blanch them, the peels slip right off… they practically can themselves!
You could have at least warned a girl that the peaches have to be perfectly ripe before proceeding with the canning process. Sheesh! How was I supposed to know they weren’t ready yet?
Well, I for one wouldn’t leave you newbies hangin’ like that. Listen and learn. Trying to peel an unripe peach will be your worst nightmare. Please, for goodness sakes, please, wait until it’s ripe! You’ll thank me.
A peach is just right for canning when you can press on the skin with your thumb, and it leaves a dent. If the peach is rock hard, supposedly putting it in a paper bag with a banana will help speed up the ripening. Either way, just give it a couple of days to get good and ready.
Okay, so now that we’ve got that squared away, lets get on with the fun. Let me show you how to can peaches!
First thing’s first. You’ll need to wash the peaches.
You also want to make sure to have some clean jars, hot and ready. I put mine in the dishwasher to sanitize and keep hot until I’m ready for them. You can also put them into a large pot of boiling hot water until it’s time to fill them. Make sure you have clean lids and rings ready to go as well. Get a small pot of simmering water going to sanitize your lids (be sure not to let them boil).
Next, you’ll want to blanch the peaches. This process makes peeling them a breeze (ripe ones, that is!) Get a big pot of boiling water going, and put 5 or 6 peaches at a time into the water. Don’t leave them long. They only need to be boiling for 30-60 seconds, max.
Okay, I have to butt in again. This is another point in which I messed up, so it’s very important that I share this with you. I read on another blogger’s “How To” that if the peaches didn’t peel nicely after the first blanching, just put them back into the water for another 30-60 seconds and the peels will slip right off.
Well, not realizing at the time that my peaches were perhaps not ripe enough yet, and thinking that the problem was simply that I needed to blanch them longer, I decided to let all of my peaches boil for about 2 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
I know, *sigh*, I can hear all of you master canners gasping at me now. Yes, that’s right. I said it. I over blanched.
What actually ended up happening is that the peels still didn’t come off nicely. And then, since they’d been in the hot water so long, the peaches had begun cooking, so the outer layer of peach that is supposed to be firm and smooth, was mushy and slimy and, well, like the inside of a pumpkin. You can clearly see the layer of mushy skin on the peaches in the picture. It wasn’t pretty.
Okay, back to the directions. Where was I? Oh yes, blanching. After your peaches have been in the boiling water for no more than a minute, quickly plunge them into a large bowl or sink full of icy water for about two minutes. You’ll need a lot of ice for this.
Now they are ready to be peeled. If you are lucky, your peels will slip right off. If you are me, you’ll have to use a potato peeler to get most of them skin free.
Next, cut the peaches in half, and remove the pits. I used a melon scooper to remove all of the gritty pink remains from the center of the peaches. I hate biting into that crunchy stuff!
You can leave them as halves, like this, but I wanted to slice them up to save myself another step when I’m ready to serve them. It didn’t take me long, however, to decide I’d rather just leave them in halves at this point! I was so ready to be done.
It is suggested that you treat the peaches to keep them from turning brown. To do this, you can sprinkle them with lemon juice, tossing to coat. Or, you could drop the pieces into a gallon of water mixed with 2 Tbsp salt, and 2 Tbsp vinegar, to keep them looking good as you work.
I started to treat mine, but realized that they had sat so long already, it was pointless really. So, I did not treat most of my peaches. If they turn brown, it won’t affect the taste or quality. They just won’t look as nice.
While slicing your peaches up, you should get a medium saucepan of syrup boiling. You can make a heavy, medium, or a light syrup. You can even just use straight water, though I thought it would be nice to have a little bit of sugar in with my peaches. I opted for the light syrup.
- Light Syrup: 6 cups of water to 2 cups of sugar.
- Medium Syrup: 6 cups of water to 3 cups of sugar.
- Heavy Syrup: 6 cups of water to 4 cups of sugar.
Bring the mixture to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring to completely dissolve the sugar.
When your peaches are all sliced like you want them, pack them into the hot jars. Tap the jars on a towel laid over the countertop so that they pack down tight. Fill the jars to within 1/2 inch from the top.
Next, ladle the hot syrup into the jars. Fill to 1/2 inch from top.
Use the end of a wooden spoon, or something, to remove any air bubbles. Tipping the jar slightly will help.
Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean, wet cloth to remove any stickiness.
Retrieve a lid from the simmering pot of water (I love my lid lifter tool), and place it on the jar.
Screw the ring on. And you’re ready to put them into the canner.
You can water bath can peaches, or use a steam canner like I have here. Processing time is 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.
Once the time is up, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool on a rack for 24 hours. After that time, remove the rings and make sure that the lids are secure. If you can easily pull a lid off, stick that jar in the fridge and eat those peaches soon. Write the date on the lids; peaches have a shelf life of 12-18 months.
Some other tips I’ll keep in mind next time around:
I have read another commenter who says that she never peels the peaches before canning. She maintains that once the jars have been hot water bathed, the skins will slip right off of the peaches as you remove them from the jar. Next time, I am definitely trying that!
I also found this tutorial over at Simple Bites to be very interesting. Her method seems so much easier than mine. She doesn’t use hot jars, just clean sanitized ones. And she doesn’t make a syrup. Instead, she packs the peaches about 3/4 full into the jars, then adds about 1/3 cup sugar to each jar (though I’m not sure if this was for pints or quarts). Next, she fills the jars with lukewarm tapwater to within 1/2 inch from the top.
So, my first attempt at canning peaches didn’t exactly pan out perfectly. But, hey, I learned some things, right? That only means that next time will be even better!
Have any other tips you can give us? Any of you can peaches using a different method?