My mother-in-law recently offered – for the fifth consecutive year – to show me how to can peaches. Since I’m trying to get better at domestic arts I decided that this year would be the one where I would channel my inner farm girl/Martha Stewart and can peaches. Plus, it will look mighty fancy when someone comes over and I can either gift them with a jar or make inconspicuously make large gestures towards the shelf where they will sit and then casually say “Oh, those? Yeah, I canned them. Don’t you can your own?”
Surprisingly, the hardest part of the whole extravaganza was actually obtaining the peaches. My in-laws live in the heart of British Columbia, Canada’s Okanagan which boasts towns with names such as Summerland and – wait for it – Peachland. The region is well known for it’s delicious wines and fresh fruits but apparently when you’re talking about canning peaches, you have to be pretty cutthroat to know the places to get the best peaches and even then you have to pre-order them. Seriously, who knew you had to pre-order your fruit?
We finagled with the 85-year old farm proprietor known for the best peaches in the region and swindled another lady picking up her pre-order into the fact that she had a box too many. We picked up 20 pounds of freestone peaches (the ne plus ultra of canning) for $24.
Now the secret to peach canning is allegedly in this next part: the sitting and ripening. You can’t have peaches that are too hard and if they sit too long, they will rot. They have to be, like Goldilocks, just right. We left our peaches out for 3 days and they were as juicy as can be. Lay them out on newspaper in a cool, dark place for best results.
During those 3 days, you should get together all the mason jars you are going to use for canning. Either way, you’ll need to sterilize the jars. We simply put the jars in a clean dishwasher and set it on sterilize mode to make sure they were clean and safe for canning. I’m definitely not an expert at the number of jars required, but as a guide, we filled 9 large size Bernardin Mason jars with our 20 pounds.
Are you ready to learn how to can peaches? Well, you’re almost ready. You’ve still got to do two things: make the syrup and then sterilize the lids to the jars. I learned that there is lots of sterilizing involved in canning. The syrup is quite easy, we used a mixture of 3:1, meaning three parts water to one part sugar. I didn’t want to have a sugar high from eating fruit and the peaches are so sweet already that this is the perfect amount for me. Bring it to a boil in a large pot and then let simmer until the sugar has dissolved. For the lids, you’ll need to get new pop-up lids that fit inside the rim and on top of the Mason jar as they can’t be reused. Pop them out of the brand new package and into some boiling water for sterilizing.
Now you can get out your peaches. After three days, they should be extremely juicy and the skin should really just peel off with a knife. Start at the top of the peach near the stem and you should be able to get all the skin off without losing any juicy peach. (Peach flesh? Peach meat? I’m not that domestic) After all the skin is off, cut the peach off the pit right away, don’t try to core it. It will peel off the core perfectly fine without the extra work.
Fill your jars with the peach slices (You should get about 6 chunks per peach so the slices aren’t too tiny in my opinion) just about up to the neck of the bottle.
Once all the jars are full, you’ll need to start boiling the water in your canner (which looks like a big pot with a rack in it to me, but I’m told is a special thing). Put in enough water so that it will just cover all the lids. Then you’ll also need to wipe off the tops of the jars so that when you put your sterilized lids on and then screw the rings on, there is no peach juice or sugars.
Now comes the dangerous part (well for me anyways, I’m an accident waiting to happen). You’ll need to take your boiling hot syrup mixture and pour it over your peaches right up to the neck of the jar. We used a ladle and it was much safer than me trying to pour a pot of hot sugar. Once the jars are full of syrup, place the lids on top of the jars and screw the rims on. Don’t do them up too tight however so that air can escape – but tight enough so water from the pot doesn’t get in. It’s a science people.
You can put the peaches into the canner once the water is really boiling.
As soon as you dunk room temperature peaches into boiling hot water, the water will stop boiling. You’ll need to wait until it’s boiling again and then from that point add 20 minutes for the end of the process. Take the jars out of the boiling water and rest them on a heat-resistant surface. You’ll hear the jars start to pop as the lids seal.
Voila! Canned peaches!
Now you could finish there. You could, I can’t. Remember how I said I would give them as gifts or make poor people tour my pantry? I wasn’t kidding. And just plain mason jars? How 2012.
So I whipped up a label, printed it out, tossed on some twine and cut up some old curtains (true story) and prettied them up. So, without further ado… Please, meet my final version of homemade canned peaches:
If you are going to be canning peaches yourself, I’ve attached the label I used so you can just add text of whatever you want to call them at the top and stick & go! Just click on the image and it will take you to the image with no markings for your own use!
Look at me, domestic diva or what?