Peaches in light syrup are a delicious and versatile dessert that can be enjoyed year round. Canned peaches are easy to make at home and allow you to enjoy summer’s harvest of juicy, ripe peaches whenever you want. Making your own canned peaches is also more economical than buying pre-made canned peaches. With just a few simple ingredients and steps, you’ll have jars of peaches in light syrup ready for everything from fruit salads to parfaits to pies.
What are the benefits of homemade canned peaches?
There are several advantages to canning your own peaches in syrup:
- Cost savings – Home canning peaches is cheaper than buying pre-made canned peaches
- Control ingredients – You can control the amount of sugar in the syrup
- Preserve freshness – Canning locks in the bright, fresh peach flavor
- Customize flavors – Add spices like cinnamon or vanilla to the syrup
- Storage – Canned peaches last 1-2 years stored properly on shelves
- Gifts – Homemade canned goods make great gifts for others
Making your own canned peaches ensures you can enjoy delicious, affordable peaches year-round!
Step 1 – Select Peaches
The first step in canning peaches is selecting high quality, ripe peaches. Look for peaches that are fragrant, soft to the touch, and free of blemishes. Avoid peaches that are too firm or green. The best peaches for canning are usually freestone varieties, where the flesh easily separates from the pit. Good peach varieties for canning include:
- Red Haven
- Sun Crest
- Sweet Sue
You’ll need about 2 1/2 pounds of peaches per quart jar. Always select ripe, unbruised peaches for the best results when canning.
How can you tell if peaches are ripe and ready for canning?
Here are a few tips for selecting ripe peaches ready for canning:
- Aroma – Ripe peaches will smell sweet and fragrant
- Softness – They will give slightly when gently pressed
- Color – Yellow or cream background with a reddish blush
- Stem – The stem should detach easily from the fruit
- Minimal blemishes – Avoid bruised or damaged peaches
Choose tree-ripened peaches whenever possible for maximum flavor. Peaches bought firm will soften quickly at room temperature.
Step 2 – Prepare the Peaches
Once you’ve selected ripe, sweet peaches, the next step is preparing them for canning. Here’s how:
- Wash the peaches thoroughly under cool running water. Rub any dirt off the peaches gently.
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner or large pot with rack and sterilize provided jars and lids.
- To peel, dip the peaches briefly in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then transfer immediately to ice water. The skins will slip off easily.
- Cut the peeled peaches in half and remove the pits. Slice into halves, quarters, or slices.
- In a large bowl, toss the sliced peaches with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning.
Freezing peeled peaches for 10-20 minutes firms them up and makes cutting uniform slices easier. Work in batches to keep cut peaches from browning before canning.
How do you peel peaches easily for canning?
The blanching method is the easiest way to peel many peaches quickly:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl.
- Cut an X in the bottom of each peach.
- Add a few peaches at a time to the boiling water for 30-60 seconds.
- Immediately transfer to the ice bath using a slotted spoon.
- The skins will peel off easily after blanching.
The ice water helps stop the cooking process quickly. Peeling lots of peaches goes fast this way!
Step 3 – Prepare the Syrup
Peaches are canned in a hot syrup, which helps them retain color and flavor as well as sweeten them. A light syrup is recommended, as it allows the fresh peach flavor to shine.
To make a light syrup:
- Combine 4 cups water and 2 cups sugar in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Skim off any foam.
- Keep the syrup hot while preparing the peach jars for processing.
For a lighter syrup, use 1 1/4 cups of sugar per 4 cups of water. For heavier syrup, add more sugar. You can also add spices like cinnamon sticks or whole cloves.
How does the syrup help preserve canned peaches?
The syrup serves several important functions in home canning peaches:
- Provides liquid – Essential for creating a vacuum seal
- Sweetens peaches – Sugar enhances flavor
- Helps retention – Retains color, texture, and nutrients
- Protects quality – Prevents discoloration and floaters
- Adds flavor – Infuses peaches with cinnamon, vanilla, etc
The right syrup concentration keeps peaches appetizing and delicious when canned.
Step 4 – Pack Peach Jars
With the peaches prepped and light syrup made, it’s time to pack everything into the jars. Here are the steps:
- Fill provided jars with sliced peaches, packing them in fairly tightly but leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top.
- Ladle hot syrup over the peaches, again leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Release any air bubbles by sliding a chopstick around the inside edges.
- Wipe rims clean using a damp cloth.
- Center lids on jars and screw bands on fingertip tight.
Use a wide funnel to make packing the syrup easier. Make sure jars are clean and hot before filling. Headspace is important for obtaining a vacuum seal.
How much headspace do you need when canning peaches?
When canning peaches in jars, it’s important to leave the right amount of headspace:
- 1/2 inch headspace for peaches packed in water, juice or syrup
- 1 inch headspace for peaches packed in their own puree or as a pie filling
This empty space allows room for food expansion and formation of a vacuum seal during processing. Too little headspace can cause jar breakage. Follow tested recipes for the best results.
Step 5 – Process the Jars
Filled peach jars now need to be processed in a boiling water canner to make them shelf stable. Here is the process:
- Place jar rack in bottom of large canner or pot. Fill halfway with warm water.
- Load filled jars onto rack using a jar lifter. Make sure jars are not touching.
- Add more boiling water if needed to cover jars by 1-2 inches.
- Cover pot, bring water to a full boil, and process pints for 20 minutes.
- When time is up, turn off heat and let jars rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars with jar lifter and let cool completely undisturbed.
The boiling water processing creates a vacuum seal as the contents cool. This vacuum seal prevents contamination.
How do you know if the canning jars have sealed properly?
Here’s how to check for a good jar seal after processing:
- Lid is concave and does not move when pressed
- No liquid is leaking from the seal
- No bubbles are rising through the juice
- Peaches are covered by liquid
- Metal band makes a “ping” sound when tapped
After 12-24 hours, unsealed jars can be reprocessed using new lids. Jars that don’t seal should be refrigerated and consumed quickly.
Step 6 – Cool and Store
Once canned peaches are completely cooled, they’re ready to be labeled, dated, and stored. Here are some tips:
- Allow 12-24 hours for jars to fully seal and cool before moving them.
- Check seals and remove bands; wash jars and lids if sticky.
- Label jars with contents and date.
- Store in a cool, dark place between 50°F to 70°F.
- Leave 1 inch space between jars and only stack them two levels high.
- Let jars stand at room temperature before serving – the syrup will thicken.
Properly canned peaches in sterile jars will keep up to 18 months. Refrigerate after opening and use within 1 week. Enjoy your homemade peaches!
Possible Problems When Canning Peaches
When canning your own peaches in light syrup, there are a few potential problems that can arise:
Peaches that float up in the jar didn’t get packed tightly enough. Next time, press peaches into the jar a bit firmer when packing. A flexible jar packing tool can help. Floating peaches can discolor but are still safe to eat.
If peaches appear dark or brown, they may have been packed too tightly or exposed to air. Prevent oxidation by working in batches, tossing cut peaches with lemon juice. Make sure syrup covers peaches by 1/2 inch.
If you notice mold growing in a jar, do not eat the peaches! Mold is a sign of spoilage. Properly processed jars should not grow mold. Check jar seals and only reprocess persistently sealed jars.
Under-processing canned peaches can cause them to be soft when opened. Always follow recipes precisely for processing times at your altitude. Add more processing time at high elevations. Eat softened peaches right away after opening.
Sticky jar rims prevent lids from sealing well. Be meticulous about cleaning jar rims thoroughly before securing lids. Ensure proper headspace and acidity. Reprocess unsealed jars within 24 hours using new lids.
Tips for Canning Peaches Successfully
Follow these helpful tips for getting great results when canning peaches in light syrup:
- Use ripe, unbruised fruit free of blemishes
- Work quickly to prevent cut peaches from browning
- Measure headspace and syrup amounts precisely
- Ensure proper processing time at your altitude
- Allow jars to seal and cool fully before moving them
- Clean jar rims thoroughly before securing lids
- Store jars in a cool, dark place up to 18 months
With high quality peaches, sterile equipment, and careful preparation, you’ll end up with delicious canned peaches to enjoy all year long!
Recipes Using Canned Peaches
Now that you know how to can peaches in light syrup, here are some amazing recipes to use your homemade peaches in:
Fresh Peach Pie
Nothing says summer more than a homemade peach pie! Drain and slice canned peaches to make an easy pie filling. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Bake in a pie crust for a perfect peach pie.
For an elegant dessert, layer sweetened vanilla yogurt with canned peaches and raspberry sauce. Garnish with toasted almonds or coconut.
Drain canned peaches and mash in a pitcher. Add white wine, peach schnapps, orange juice and sliced citrus. Chill and serve over ice for a refreshing sangria.
For a savory treat, dice canned peaches and combine with chopped bell pepper, onion, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeño. Enjoy with tortilla chips.
Peach Chicken Salad
Combine chopped canned peaches with cooked chicken, pecans, diced celery and mayonnaise. Serve on greens or as a sandwich topping.
The possibilities are endless with canned peaches on hand. Enjoy them in cobblers, cakes, crisps, salads, yogurt, oatmeal, and more!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do canned peaches last?
Properly canned peaches will last 12-18 months stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, refrigerate leftover peaches and use within 1 week.
Can you use frozen peaches instead of fresh for canning?
It’s best to only can fresh ripe peaches, not frozen. Frozen peaches will be mushy when thawed. Select fresh firm, unbruised peaches at peak ripeness for canning.
Is it necessary to add lemon juice when canning peaches?
Yes, adding an acidic ingredient like lemon juice helps canned peaches maintain color and flavor. It provides acidity to balance the pH. Use 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice per quart jar.
Should you remove peach skins when canning them?
Peeling peaches before canning is optional, but recommended. Blanching makes removing skins easy. The skins can become tough when canned. Leaving them on is fine if you prefer.
Can you process canned peach jars in a pressure canner instead?
Yes, you can safely process peach jars in a pressure canner instead of a water bath canner. Use 6 lbs pressure for pints for the same time as listed in the water bath instructions.
Canning your own peaches in light syrup is a rewarding way to enjoy fresh-tasting peaches any time of year. With the proper steps and equipment, you can easily make shelf-stable canned peaches at home. Blanching and peeling peaches, preparing a light syrup, processing filled jars, and storing them properly are the keys to success. Be sure to use fully ripe, unblemished peaches at the peak of ripeness. The result will be sweet, golden peaches bursting with flavor that you can enjoy in pies, salads, snacks, and more for up to 18 months. Making your own canned peaches is deliciously economical!