Canning Peaches or Pears
Canning peaches is an activity we do every year - they are just so good! When peaches become ripe during the warm summer months, we love to head to our local orchard and buy forty-pound boxes of them. Canning peaches is so simple that your only set-backs will be way too many skin peelings and a sticky counter! And the home-canned variety is so much healthier since it won't contain all those preservatives and chemicals that you'll find in commercially canned goods.
Selecting the fruit
Peaches are usually at their peak around August to September. It's important to buy the best fruit you can when canning peaches; if you buy mushy or bruised fruit, canning it will not improve their quality. This is true of any fruit or vegetable, not just peaches. If you can bad fruit, the result will be bad fruit. In fact, you are actually enhancing your risk of food spoilage if you preserve rotted or bruised fruit! Canning doesn't improve anything.
When picking out your fruit, look for peaches that have a warm yellow blush to them. They should feel firm in your hand; mushy should be out of the picture.
It's important not to can fruit before it ripens. We once canned 40 pounds of pears that were just a wee bit under-ripe, and although they softened some during processing, the end result was a jar of tough pears. Never can under-ripe fruit - or over-ripe fruit.
1. How many peaches do I need?
About seven normal sized peaches are needed to fill a quart-sized canning jar. If you are wanting to can as many jars as will fit in your
water bath canner,
(7 quarts), than you are going to need about 17 1/2 pounds of peaches. This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that once everything is skinned, chopped, packed, and canned, all your peaches will have fit nicely in those jars and you will have nothing left but peelings.
2. Blanching the peaches
Peeling 17 pounds of peaches would take a long time, which is why most people who can blanch their fruit. Blanching is a wonderful method that is a huge time-saver.
To do this, simply boil a large pot of water. Once it is boiling, gently place your peaches in the pot and leave them for about 20 - 45 seconds. With a slotted spoon, immediately transfer peaches to a bowl of ice cold water. (You will actually need ice cubes in the water for best results.) Let them soak for a few minutes. Then make a slash in the skin with a knife, and the skins will peel right off!
3. Slice or chop peaches
There is no rule for chopping peaches. Do this however you like; quartered, halved, chopped, or diced. As you slice, cut out and discard bad spots. Canning peaches is not complicated!
4. Prepare liquid or syrup
As is true with any kind of fruit or vegetable, when canning peaches, you need to fill your jars up with some sort of a liquid. You can pack your jars with plain water, or you can use a fruit juice or a homemade syrup.
If you choose to use juice or homemade syrup, than the sugar content in your jar if peaches is obviously going to be higher. Sugar actually will help the fruit to retain color and firmness; so there are benefits by including it.
However, if you're wanting to avoid sugar and can healthier, then packing your jars with plain water will work just as well.
Light Syrup: 2 C. sugar + 4 C. water = 5 C. syrup
Medium Syrup: 3 C. sugar + 4 C. water = 5 1/2 C. syrup
Heavy Sryup 4 3/4 C. sugar + 4 C. water= 6 1/2 C. syrup
When making a homemade syrup, heat water over medium heat and add sugar. Bring to a boil (this allows the sugar to dissolve.) Stir frequently. Pour into hot jars packed with fruit.
Can I use Splenda or a sugar substitute in my homemade syrup?
Yes you can. Remember, however, that sugar provides a measure of preservation, meaning that it helps keep the fruit properly preserved. If you replace that sugar with Splenda, it will be the same as if you were you were canning in plain water. (Which is perfectly safe, by the way.) In other words, whereas sugar will contribute sweetness and preservation, splenda will only provide sweetness. Canning with splenda will not help the preservation of the fruit like sugar will. Sugar will help retain color and firmness; Splenda will not.
Splenda is well known for being able to be substituted "cup for cup" with sugar. In baking, this is true; however, canning is a little different. Instead of using full Splenda subsitution, try using half the amount of Splenda than you would sugar. You may find that using full Splenda may be too sweet or contribute a bad aftertaste; so start small.
Click here for more information on canning with Splenda.
6. Wipe the rims
Gently wipe the rims of your jars clean with a clean damp cloth. Dry well, and place lids and rims on the jar.
7. Place jars in canner
Fill water bath canner or soup/stock pot with enough water to cover your jars; plus two inches of water. Place jars in canner and turn onto high heat. Bring water to a rolling boil, and process jars for the amount of time your elevation requires.
Canning Peach Pie Filling
Canning your own peach pie filling is so much better than the store-bought variety! This peach pie filling recipe is delicious and makes a scrumptious pie. You will love biting into a piece of pie that you know is 100% homemade - filling and all. And the best part of it is that you will know that your pie filling is healthy; no chemicals and no preservatives.
To make 7 quarts of pie filling, you will need:
9 quarts fresh peaches, peeled (see above information on blanching) and sliced
1 3/4 C. water
5 1/4 C. sugar
21 tablespoons corn starch
14 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine water, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to avoid cornstarch lumps. When boiling, add peaches and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about five minutes.
Pour mixture into hot quart jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a wet paper towel and dry. Place lids and rims on jars and
place in pressure canner.
Process for correct amount of time according to your elevation.
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