Okay guys, bear with me…..this is going to be a long post. I wanted to tell you that in advance in case you wanted to get comfortable, get a drink, or pitch a tent. It’s hard to do a canning tutorial without tons of pictures. So, here you go! I wanted to can peaches this year – I first thought about freezing them, but mom changed my mind. Moms have a way of doing that. So, we went to our family’s produce market and bought two boxes of peaches. They were so pretty! I enjoyed working with them and smelling them…..and okay, eating them.
If you can, this book is a must have! The Ball Blue Book of Preserving is a really great reference for just about anything you would want to can. My mom has one from back in the day, and she still uses it. This is my newer version that I bought in 2004. There are step-by-step photos and great explanations. I highly recommend it.
I wanted to can my peaches without a sugar syrup, so I looked it up in the book. It said to use 100% apple juice or water. So, I did a half and half mixture of apple juice and water.
First I looked through all the peaches, picking out the prettiest ones to eat. A fresh peach will make your heart sing. There really isn’t a whole lot in this world that tastes better than a delicious, juicy peach. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.
As soon as I did that, it was like ringing the dinner bell. Here came Annie for her fair share. She wanted to “help” (eat as many peaches as possible). So, I fixed her a peach. It’s hard to preserve food when Annie is around – she just wants to eat it all right then.
Wash all the peaches you plan to can. I trusted the source for these peaches, so I just washed them in water. If you’re not sure, you can wash them in a vinegar/lemon juice mixture. See the dust and fuzz in the water?
Turn your oven to the “warm” setting or just the lowest temperature you have. I don’t have a warm setting on my oven. I feel cheated. Stick your jars in there to warm up and sterilize.
Now, normally you would blanch your peaches and get the peeling off that way. We just peeled ours……the skin came off very easily, so we didn’t bother with the extra step. Plus it was about 300 million degrees already and we didn’t want any more heat in the kitchen if we could help it. It was a good day for a sermon on Hell. “Don’t like this heat? REPENT!”
As you’re cutting the peaches, you have to treat them with a vinegar/salt solution or they’ll turn brown before you’re ready to put them in the jars. The ratio for the solution is 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 gallon of water. We made it in advance and plopped the peaches in there to bathe while we continued peeling. Stir them around occasionally to ensure they all get coated. You can cut your peaches in half, but I cut mine in quarters. That lets you get more in the jar.
Pay attention to your children while you’re canning. Mom and I got distracted……and Annie noticed. So, she colored a mural on the floor with black crayon. And then I made her clean it up. Yep, that’s how I roll. Thank you, Magic Eraser. And the funny thing is, she had a GREAT time cleaning it up. Yep, she’s my child.
When you’re done peeling, you need to rinse the peaches…..twice. Make sure you get rid of all the vinegar and salt.
In a large pot, you want to warm some water and add the peaches (one layer of peaches at a time). You want to get the peaches nice and hot. This method for apple juice requires that you do a “hot pack” instead of a “cold pack.” Just get them warm throughout, don’t cook them…..or they’ll get mushy.
While you’re warming the peaches, bring the apple juice/water mixture just barely to a boil. I used equal parts apple juice and water. Don’t boil the heck out of it.
Put your sealing lids in a small pan and bring them to a boil as well. When you put them in the pot, alternate the way you lay them down in there so the seals don’t stick together.
We started out using one of these canning funnel things, but I got mad at it and just used my fork. It seemed to make things more difficult. I like easy and simple stuff.
Pack your hot peaches down in the hot jars. I used a fork to get mine out and put them down in there. Make sure you put them cavity side down. It helps you pack them in tightly. Get as many in there as you can without smushing them. Oh, and the jar will be hot…really hot. It can burn. Ow.
You need to leave ½ inch headspace in each jar. Huh? That’s explained in the book. That means it’s how much you leave at the top of the jar. The book has pictures. I love picture books.
Fill your canner about half way with warm water. We’re using a hot water bath for these peaches and not a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers scare me. Maybe we’ll tackle one of those someday on here. I’m always canning with my mom, and she is pretty awesome with her cooker. That makes me feel safe.
When you get all your peaches in there, fill it up with your hot apple juice mixture. Dribble it down the sides of the jars. Thank you. Don’t forget to leave ½ inch headspace.
Using a butter knife, stick it down in the sides of your jars to get rid of the air bubbles. Make sure you go all the way around each jar. Try to avoid stabbing your peaches. Oops.
When you’re done, wipe down the jars to avoid a sticky mess later….and so the lids can come into contact with the jar and not smushed peach. Take your hot lids out of the water and drop the seal side down on a towel to get rid of some of the excess water. Oh, and they’re hot. This whole process is hot. I was sweating like a pig and burning myself on a regular basis……but it was fun…unlike everything I know about Hell. Have I mentioned repenting yet?
Place each lid on top of a jar. I like silver lids better than gold, but it doesn’t matter which you use.
Screw the rings on tight. Oh, and the jars are hot…..so use a towel. My mom is smart. I think she must burn herself a lot less than me.
You should have a large canner pot and one of those things that holds your jars inside. There is probably a technical term, but I don’t know it. I’m not really technical. And I am not good with street names either. Put your jars down into the canner. Our canner holds 7 jars (we did 14 total). It helps if you put the center jar in first.
When the jars are all in there, lower the canner holder thingy down into the water. Do this slowly, so as to avoid a water bath for yourself.
|When you lower the thingy, make sure you have 1 inch of water over the top of your jars. If you don’t, add more warm water.|
Turn canner to high, put on the lid, and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down a tad so it doesn’t boil too hard. You want it to keep boiling, but not boil dry. For quarts, we’ll process 25 minutes at a boil.
When they are done, carefully remove them from the water. I love this handy dandy thing my mom has. I think they cost about $10. It’s a good idea to pick one up if you want to avoid major burns and trips to the ER.
Place the hot jars on top of a towel.
My mom always covers them with a towel and paper. I asked her why. It’s to keep the heat in longer, helping them all to seal. The book doesn’t say that. My mom has been canning for YEARS, so I know she knows what’s she’s doing.
Let them sit there until they cool completely and hopefully seal. All mine sealed successfully. I love listening the rest of the day for that tell-tale POP! It makes me giggle. I’m boring like that. If they happen to not seal, you can store those jars in the fridge and eat them over the next few weeks.
And there ya have it! They turned out really pretty this year. I might can pears in the fall……they work just like these peaches except you use white grape juice for them instead of apple juice. Are you asleep?
Canning Peaches – A Tutorial
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