It’s peach time! My boys love bottled peaches and I try to do a years worth of quarts for our family each year.
I had someone ask me where I get my fruit from. I get it anywhere I can that is free or nearly free. In order to make canning worth the time and the money you save, that’s the only way to do it. This year to get peaches we found someone with a loaded tree that had peaches falling off of and we asked if we could pick them. In return we always try to clean up the ground around the trees and take them back a bottle of the fruit.
Set up takes a little bit of time and organization, but it makes the process go much faster. Here is how I set it up. First, place jars in dishwasher and wash them with a heated dry cycle. That way they will stay nice and hot. On my stove I have all 4 burners going.
- One with my water bath canner
- One with my lids simmering
- One with hot boiling water for blanching tomatoes
- One with a sugar syrup simmering
Peaches are packed in a sugar syrup Here are the proportions for making a syrup:
Next to my stove I place a rag on each side of the counter for spills and also to keep the jars from touching the cold counter. I place my lid lifter and jar lifter on the side of the stove with the canner and lids. I also place my jar rings there so they are on hand when I am sealing up the jar. On the other side by the syrup and the hot water I have glass measuring cup for scooping the sugar syrup into the jars. I also have a bowl with a slotted spoon for moving the peaches from the hot water to the cold water while blanching.
By the sink I set two bowls. One is the biggest bowl I have, and the other a good sized bowl. I fill these both with cold water and add Fruit-Fresh to make sure the peaches don’t get brown. I probably use a couple of teaspoons per bowl. I make a ice bath directly in one side of my sink, and in the other side of the sink I place a bowl or strainer for catching the peels.
Something else I do is place a bar stool in front of the sink and place a towel over the edge. This way I can sit while peeling and drop the peels directly down into the sink. The peaches are wet and juicy though and I hate when water will run down my arm so that is why the towel is over the edge, to rest my arm on and stop the drips.
Once you are all set up it’s time to start! First, grab your peaches and drop them in the hot water.
I keep my water at a high simmer. There are small bubbles on the side and bottom, but its not boiling yet. You need to let them sit in the hot water for a couple of minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. If you find they are not peeling easily, try leaving them in the hot water for a little longer. If they are soft and squishy when peeling, try leaving them in for less time.
Then transfer the peaches into the cold water.
This will help the skins to peel off easy. If you are lucky they will come off in one big piece:
But more often than not you will have to use a pairing knife to get some of the skin off.
Once I get the skin off, I throw it in my big bowl.
Once the bowl is full, I take a hot jar out of the dishwasher and start cutting the peaches and filling the jars. First I cut the peach in half, remove the pit, and then cut the peach into quarters. You can do halves or even into 6 pieces, its your preference for how big you like them when you serve them.
Then I put them in the jars.
When the jar seems full, tap it down a little bit to settle the peaches. Don’t pound it or shove them too full or you wont be able to get juice all around them.
Then fill the jar the rest of the way up.
On a side note here, I use the second bowl on the counter for the ugly, bruised, or overripe peaches. Some of that is vanity, I like the peaches to look nice in my jars! But also those are the peaches that make the best fruit leather because they are super ripe. For example this peach I cut the bruised part out and threw that in the second bowl and then cut the rest of the peach that was nice and put it in my jar.
By the end of canning I usually have a pretty full “junk” bowl. Tomorrow I will show you how to make fruit leather from these peaches so you can have it fresh year round.
Back to the peaches… next fill your jar with the hot syrup.
Most canning sites and books will recommend that you use something non metal to run around the edges of the peaches to get the air bubbles out. I don’t do that because I think it can damage the peaches. Instead I lightly tap the jar to get some of the bubbles out and then I add a little extra juice to the jar. I leave about this much head space:
Then I take that jar to the other side of my stove and wipe the rim of the jar with a wet rag to make sure there is nothing on the rim that will keep the jar from sealing correctly.
Then I add my lid that has been simmering, and secure it with a ring.
I go back to my big bowl of peaches and repeat until the peaches are gone or I have 7 full jars.
I place those in my canner and water bath them so the jars will seal. For the time on peaches it is 20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts. Make sure that you start your time when the water bath is at a low boil.
Once your time is up, remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter. They will all be boiling over near your lid and that’s okay, but I like to use a thick towel under them to help absorb that sugar water that comes out. Let the jars rest and cool and they should “pop” within a few hours and seal up. Once they are sealed and cool, I take the ring off and rinse the bottle really well. I wash the ring inside too and then dry and replace the ring. If you don’t do this they will have sugar all over them and be sticky. Last year I was lazy and only washed the jar without removing the ring….big mistake! I could hardly get the jars open this past year!
One last quick note on keeping jars hot when they have peaches in them. You don’t want to add a colder jar to the boiling water canner because that can cause the glass to break. I start my dishwasher the first time with soap to get the jars really clean. I try to start it about an hour before I start canning to time it right so that when I’m filling my jars the dishwasher is on the heated dry cycle. This way my jars are nice and hot. But if you are doing a lot of peaches like I was, you will still be going when the jars are getting cold in the dishwasher. So as soon as it finishes I start it over again – without soap. That way I will have hot wet jars no matter what part of the cycle it is on, because they were all ready clean.
I had a jar break on me this week and its so frustrating to see all those peaches wasted. What Ive been doing is adding my jar, once the lid and ring are on, back into the dishwasher to keep the jar hot while I continue filling jars. I only do this if I’m running the dishwasher without soap. It keeps the jars nice and hot until I am ready to add them to my water bath canner. You can also add them into the canner each time you fill a jar and just let them sit in the water until you are ready to go. I just don’t want my peaches to get boiled for that long so that is why I prefer not to do it that way.
Tomorrow – Fruit Leather!
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