Freezing and Canning Peaches for Winter

I mentioned that over the weekend I received millions and millions (okay, maybe not millions) of peaches from a lady in town.  I’ve been busy preserving them for winter and thought I’d walk through the steps with you.

Please note:  These peaches were so awesome and juicy, and since there were so many of them, I felt that none of us needed to hold back on how many we ate.  So, as I was standing in my kitchen peeling and slicing peaches, and  peach juice was running down my arms…I was also biting into peaches as I worked, because I just couldn’t resist.  Therefore, I also had peach juice running down my chin.  But with peach juice all over my hands and running down my arms, it’s not like I could do much about my chin, you know?  Not one of my finer moments. 

Thought you might like to picture that.

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If you remember, I was given four boxes of peaches.  (I did share a few with some friends.)

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In the past, I’ve always peeled my peaches with a knife…and that’s been fine.  But I had so many peaches this time, I went ahead and tried this method of peeling, and whoa was it a time saver! Just put your peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds…pull them out…

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And those skins just peel right off!!  It was awesome.  Except for when they didn’t peel right off, which happened with a few of them for some reason.  (Just thought I’d tell you that so that if not all of them peel right off for you, you’ll know that you aren’t the only one!) 

(You don’t have to peel your peaches if you’re going to freeze them.  They’ll be more nutritious if you leave the peelings on, and it will save so much time too!) 

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To freeze peaches, just peel, slice and lay the peach slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Put the pan into the freezer until the peaches are frozen, about two hours.  (Or longer if you forget they’re in there.)  Then put them into a freezer bag and you’ve got great peaches for smoothies and slushies!!  And cobblers and crisps!  (If you feel like skipping this step and simply just putting your peach slices directly into a pan without freezing them individually like this first, you can…but you’ll end up with one big gallon sized frozen peach-sicle, and you may be very frustrated when you want only part of the rock hard peach-sicle for a smoothie.  Just so ya know.)

Now…to can peaches…this is what I do.  There are other ways to do it…this is just the way I do it!  Please be sure to go back and read Canning 101 for the canning basics!

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I make a honey/water solution on my stove…which is 2 T. honey to every 5 cups of water.  Heat it on the stove and let it sit warm while you prepare your peaches.

Sterilize your jars.

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Take out a hot jar and put in about 1/16 teaspoon of ascorbic acid to keep your peaches pretty.  Just dump it into the bottom of the jar.  (Some people use lemon juice)

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Ascorbic acid is powdered vitamin C.  I get mine at a health food store.

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Fill the jar with sliced peaches.  Then, use a funnel to pour your honey/water into the jar, to about a half inch from the top.  Place a sterilized lid and ring onto the full jar.

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Now it’s time to give your full jars a hot water bath to seal the lids.  Put your full jars into the water.  Once the water is boiling,  boil the jars for about 25 minutes.  (And yes, this is actually a picture of applesauce jars boiling…I forgot to take a picture of the peaches boiling and I’m too tired to go can more peaches just so that I can go take a picture of the jars boiling.)

Oh, and boil your jars with the lid on the water bath pot…I just took off the lid for the picture.  :)

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After the jars have boiled for 25 minutes, take them out with tongs…or better yet, this cool gripping tool made especially for jars and hot water baths.  Then you get to listen for the caps to seal.  I can’t think of a way to blog the way it sounds…but after all your hard work, it sure is a cool sound to hear them seal!  (Thhhhp!) (Or something like that!)  You can be sure they sealed if you can push down on the top and it is down firm.  It takes anywhere from 1 second to 30 minutes for the lid to seal after you’ve taken it out of the water. 

Then, just leave your canned peaches out on the counter for a few hours or several days so that you can admire them and smile and feel happy every time you walk into the kitchen and see them.  (Okay, that’s what I like to do anyway.)  (Because I’m weird like that.)

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Comments

  1. Amy H says

    I had a friend’s mom tell me how to do the water bath method that is lot less work then most of the instructions, & it works beautifully. She’s been canning this way for at least 30 years!

    Run your jars, lids, & rings through dishwasher on high heat rinse & dry. Doing this the day before is a good idea so as to speed the process and not heat your kitchen up so much.

    Then take a big roasting pan (the light weight, ceramic kind you put a turkey in) & put it over two burners on your stove.
    Put hot water in it, about 1/2 full.
    Put the jars in upside down. If you’re really ambitious, you can have two of these going, one on each side of the stove, but then you have no space to process the foods unless you are doing them in the oven or on the grill (yes, I did tomatoes on cookies sheets on the grill for spaghetti sauce & it was awesome!!).

    Put the lids and rings in a cake pan on another burner with hot water. It makes getting them out a lot easier later if you put the ring in, then the lid, both facing up, then layer them like that. Do this before the water boils so you can stick your fingers in there to arrange them.

    I have a 5 burner stove, so I put the roasting pan on one side, the square cake pan with the lids and rings in the center back, and the boiling pan with the fruit in it on the other side.

    Turn on the burners. You need to boil the jars for 20 minutes or so to sanitize. Once this set up is done, then go get your fruit or vegetables to process, and the rest of the canning supplies.

    Note: The upside down empty jars suck up the water into them and will leave the pan dry & it will burn if you don’t add more water. (Yes, I learned this the hard way). :) And yes, when you put the filled jars back in right side up, you will have to remove water to keep it from overflowing. I usually just ladel it out into the cake pan with the lids & rings, or into another canner once the last batch of food has been processed.

    It doesn’t hurt them to let it boil longer than 20 minutes, but you will have to watch the water levels to make sure there is always water in it.

    Once your food product is ready, pull the jars out, set right side up on your counter & fill. Put the lids & rings on, hand tighten. Wearing leather welding/gardening gloves keeps your fingers from getting burnt, but don’t get the gloves wet as then you will really burn your fungers with the heat! I usually wear one glove, and use it to tighten, etc., then use the tools with the bare hand.

    As you fill up the jars, you will have to remove water. The tops of your jars will NOT be covered in water, the water only goes about 1/2-3/4 of the way up the quart jars, and sits on the edge of the lid on pint jars. Ever had water leak into a jar and then empty the product into & contaminate your water? This will never happen again unless your jar cracks/busts. Having water over the top of the jars is not necessary. She’s done literally thousands of jars this way, and I’ve done hundreds and it is easier. I do let everything go about 5-10 minutes longer than the recommended processing times. (5 on pints, 10 on quarts). I’ve also never had anything go bad this way, and have had with the total immersion method.

    Just my 1 cent. Oh, and if you pour the left over boiling water on your kitchen sponges & rags as you’re dumping it out in the sink at the end, it’s a neat & tidy way to sanitize them easily. :)

    Does anyone else do it this way?

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Hansen Reply:

    My neighbor, Home Ec major had a great tip. Put your jars in the oven on 170 degrees to keep the sterilized and hot. I tried it and it worked great.

    [Reply]

  2. Amy says

    That’s a great idea to poke a hole in the peach!

    Do you have to peel the peaches to can them? What happens if you don’t?

    Also, has anyone tried steaming them before peeling?

    I’ve never canned whole/sliced peaches before and peeling looks like A LOT of work. I don’t peel before freezing, nor for peach butter… :)

    [Reply]

  3. Rachael says

    Amy H. The method you are describing is not safe. Most of the time the food processed this way would be fine but there is no guarantee that the jars are not contaminated with things like botulism and processing them this way does not heat the contents enough to kill the contaminants. Please be safe and do not take shortcuts with food preservation!

    [Reply]

    Mel Reply:

    Rachael, not all things are safe processing this way but for peaches it is fine.

    [Reply]

  4. Amy says

    Hi Rachel, thanks for the comment. I certainly want to be safe. But I also want to understand – why wouldn’t that heat the contents enough?

    [Reply]

  5. Rachael says

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding the method but I don’t believe they would be covered by the minimum amount of boiling water to insure that the contents on the inside of the jars were heated enough during the actual canning part of the process. And, as I said in my original comment, most of the time this method would be fine but you only need to be wrong once to get deathly ill.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl R Reply:

    A great book that explains why Amy’s and a few other methods are unsafe is
    ‘Putting Food By’ – you can see it here: http://www.amazon.com/Putting-Food-Fifth-Ruth-Hertzberg/dp/0452296226/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346464031&sr=1-1&keywords=putting+food+by

    There is even a Kindle edition now! But, Rachel, you are right. The water
    needs to surround and cover the jars by at least an inch (2 is better) and
    be kept at a full rolling boil for the entire time. They are even wary of
    doing quart jars in a standard water bath (such as pictured above) because
    you can’t keep it at a rolling boil without water splashing out, which tends
    to cause people to turn down the heat, which is a no-no.

    And I completely agree – it only takes one bad jar to get people sick.
    I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that!

    [Reply]

  6. says

    I canned peaches today for the first time ever! Thank you for the helpful step by step tips. I want to make sure I’m not going to contaminate anyone so here goes- I never heard the “thwarp” sound of the jars sealing. When I checked them, there is no give in the lids, no way to push them down, but I’m nervous since I didn’t hear the sound. Am I ok or are these not safe to eat?

    Thanks for your help!

    Kim

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    If the seal is down, then they must have “thwarped” while in the water bath. So, they should be just fine!

    [Reply]

    Kirsten BlessedMom Reply:

    Another way to describe the sounds is ‘pinging’ more like a snapping sound as the lid seals. I sure love that sound! I’m getting peaches next week. I’m sure they sealed, if you cannot push down on the lid. Another way to test is to remove the ring (it is best to store without the rings) and gently hold the lid and lift (maybe a half inch) and it should hold, no problem.

    It’s best to store without rings, because the rings can retain moisture and cause rust.

    [Reply]

  7. MP says

    We had some fresh peaches and we weren’t able to can them right away. They are peeled, sliced and frozen. Can we thaw them and still make jam? We want to can them and not do a freezer jam.

    Thanks…I loved your article!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, this should work just fine!

    [Reply]

  8. Jacqie says

    I canned for the first time this year and loved it! will do again every year now. But I havn’t been able to find anything that tells me how lng the Peaches are good for ONCE you open them? so say we want to just munch on them out of the jar.. how long are they good in the fridge after seal is broken?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ve found that they stay good for about 2 weeks in the fridge. :)

    [Reply]

  9. Georgia says

    Hi I tried the method you used to remove the skin but with Golden Queen peaches here in New Zealand. It didn’t seem to work. I think it’s because the skin is so much thicker than the peaches you have used. Unfortunately I am going to have to continue peeling the old fashioned way!

    [Reply]

  10. Kent Hawk says

    I can’t believe someone’s not explained the easiest way to peel a peach. Blanch the peaches thusly: cut a small X pattern on the bottom of the peach. Put whole peaches in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Carefully and quickly take move the peaches to a bowl of ice water. After they’ve cooled enough to handle, remove the peaches and the skin practically falls off. You can use this same method to remove tomato skins.

    [Reply]

    Kent Hawk Reply:

    Oops. I see the author already explained how to boil the peaches. Dunk in ice water for better skinning results.

    [Reply]

  11. Satara says

    I have a tree that has outdone itself this year and the limbs are starting to break from all the weight. Ive been canning and puting them in the freezer but I dont have any more room, I have a ton of cabnet space and im looking for a safe easy way to can them without having to freeze them. any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    If you boil your jars (after following the canning directions in this post) for 25 minutes in a hot water bath, that’s the simplest way to can them that I know of. http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/canning-101

    [Reply]

  12. Angi says

    I just got a box of FRESH peaches and I want to freeze them. By freezing them witht he skin on (30 sec. blanch) then (ice bath)….When slicing them do I need to use lemon juice the keep them from turning brown? I usually put them in a cookie sheet with wax paper and freeze them individually and then put them in a FoodSaver bag. Thank you for such a wonderful article. :D!!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I never use lemon juice on my peaches and they don’t turn brown as long as I get them into the freezer right away. :)

    [Reply]

  13. Jo says

    the easy way to sanitize your jars is in the dishwaher…mind has a sanitize cycle, make sure jars are clean, run the cycle…the use your jars!

    [Reply]

  14. April says

    Do you have a peach jam recipe using sucanat?

    [Reply]

    April Reply:

    Oops! Forgot to place a check mark to be notified. :)

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Not yet…but eventually she might! :)

    [Reply]

    April Reply:

    Yay!

    [Reply]

    Bekki Reply:

    I do! I use Pamona pectin available in some health food stores or online at Amazon. It allows you to make jam with minimal amounts of sugar. I use 3/4 cup sucanat for one batch. All the instructions on in the box making it very easy to follow. This pectin is also an all natural product so no nasty extras in the jam. You can even use honey or no sugar at all the pectin is quite versatile. I love it!

  15. Tina Tro says

    I love canning, just found you after looking up how long to process my peaches in the hot water bath. I laughed when I read the part about the sound of the jars sealing. I practically dance to the music, and my daughter thinks I am crazy! Those jars pinging are so awesome, especially after a long hot day of processing food for winter.

    [Reply]

  16. Earl Wooton says

    Thanks for all the information: I am 87 years old and my wife passed away a year age without passing on to me how to can or freeze food-stuff. I freeze the peaches on a sheet in the freezer and then bag them but have run out of freezer space so will start canning. I have a pressure canner — any information is welcome.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl R Reply:

    Great site with lots of info on preserving methods as well as the do’s &
    don’t's of canning.
    http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can2_fruit.html

    [Reply]

  17. Jo says

    I have a question. After very carefully making sure all the air out of my sliced peaches, when the jars cooled there seems to be a whole lot of air in the jars. What’s the best way to handle this? Can I reprocess them or just put them in the fridge and eat them quickly?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m sure they are probably fine as is. Refrigerate them if you’re worried, but if you were careful to get the air out ahead of time, I think you’re fine!

    [Reply]

  18. maureen mcelderry says

    hi-just joining. get air out of peaches? when putting in the jars then, just press down pretty hard? Because I tried that, & there was no room for the syrup. OK, so pack them in tight, but leave an inch or more to fill with syrup then? Also, I have old rings & lids, from 20 yrs ago. are the lids still good? I remember the thwaaap sound too, or a click/pop. Cool. And yes, don’t want to get sick so I’ll immerse my peaches (I’m doing spiced peaches in vinegar syrup that’s very syrupy & heavy spices. Also did some crabapples & did a cold-pack, just filled the sterilized hot jars w/ the fresh fruit, poured the hot syrup in, put lids on, screwed on caps & they both sealed. Safe you think? I got that recipe from the Canadians: Putting Up With The Turnbulls)

    [Reply]

    Cheryl R Reply:

    They really should be processed in a boiling water bath (or is this what you meant by ‘immerse’?. Check this site for good instructions on times and adjustments for altitude. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can2_fruit.html
    Another place to check is with your local county extension office.
    If you did not process them in a water bath, the lids on jars will suck down and seem to be sealed just because everything condenses when it cools and pulls the lid down. However, this does not drive the air out of the jar to provide a vacuum environment where bacteria cannot
    grow. Neither does it provide the best seal. Even the vinegar won’t help much if by ‘very syrupy’ you mean it has lots of sugar in it. You’d be best to keep them in the
    fridge or reheat everything (jars, lids, peaches, syrup) and reprocess with
    new lids (flats), if it hasn’t been more than a day. Hope this helps.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl R Reply:

    Also, as far as getting the air out of the jars, you should take something
    plastic (metal will scratch & weaken your jars) and slide it down along the inside of the jar between the jar & your fruit and press against the fruit slightly to get the air bubbles out from
    between pieces of fruit.
    As for how much head space to use, double check the
    instructions at the site I posted above or in a reliable canning manual, but
    I believe for water bathing is is 1/2 inch and pressure canning is 1 inch.
    As for what looks like air space at the top of the jar: if you don’t leave
    enough head room, some of the syrup/juice may be blown out and leave a larger
    space at the top, but if it seal properly it is probably just vacuum space.
    Double check the seals on those jars after they are completely cooled by
    setting the jar in a plastic bowl or tub and picking it up by the edge of
    the flat with your fingertips. If it comes off easily or moves at all,
    refrigerate the jar(s). Or reprocess as I mentioned above.

    [Reply]

  19. Jo says

    So, if I’m understanding correctly, the air bubbles (sorry, I forgot the word “bubbles” in my previous post) are nothing to be concerned about? That is a great relief. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  20. Angela says

    Hello, I saw on a comment above that it would be all right to peel, slice and freeze peaches and then thaw them and make and can peach jam with them. My question is: Can you thaw them and then just can them as regular peache slices or will they be too mushy? I’m worried I’ll be crunched for time when I get my lugs and won’t be able to can them right away and don’t want to freeze them long term. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    If they’ve already been frozen, they would be too mushy if you can them, unfortunately. :)

    [Reply]

  21. says

    My mother always used a table knife to get all of the bubbles out. She would run it down the edges of the glass jar. Thanks for the great info. I’m waiting for the August peaches to start canning.

    [Reply]

  22. RJ says

    If you boil the Jars and keep steaming hot water in them in hot water like in a boiler or a sink, heat the lids and the if you process the syrup and peaches together – you can just put them in the jars and put on the lids tight and they will seal and keep just fine. if you want the lemon or citrus fresh in there just put it in before you fill the jars. and presto – you are finished and don’t have to muss around with water bath. I tried water bath with tomatoes and they did not seal had to re-do them like described above.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl R Reply:

    FYI especially to first-time canners: just because a particular method of
    ‘canning’ causes the jars to seal does not necessarily mean it is a ‘safe’
    method to use for canning. Canning is just as much about killing bad
    bacteria, etc., as it is about keeping them out.

    RJ, can you point us to documentation that proves this method to be safe?
    Everything I have read from those sources who have done years of testing say
    that these types of shortcut methods are dicey at best.

    Again, I will point everyone to a site recommended by many university extension
    offices, the National Center for Home Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu/
    as well as a book called ‘Putting Food By’ which can be previewed on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Putting-Food-Fifth-ebook/dp/B0053YNF46/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375126366&sr=1-1&keywords=putting+food+by

    [Reply]

    RJ Reply:

    Cheryl R,

    I understand that you feel compelled to tell people that they need to follow some sort of University Extension/govt. guideline. However I have tried the water bath method and the jars DID NOT SEAL. So I redid the water bath and still not seal – just wasted two set of lids for about a dozen jars and had to throw some away.

    Bottom line is that if you put clean properly heated food into clean hot jars with hot lids and tighten the top – they will seal. So how can the contents be contaminated?

    This is not a short cut as you say – it is being expedient.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl R Reply:

    Water bath canning is a tested, tried and true method for canning low-acid foods.
    If you are having a problem with jars consistently not sealing, there must be something
    amiss in the processing (i.e., too much/not enough head space; rims not cleaned after
    filling jars with food; rings not tightened correctly, etc.).

    The method you are describing is called “open-kettle” canning and has been deemed
    unsafe by numerous food safety organizations. You can ‘get away’ with it much of
    the time with high-acid foods if you have handled everything very cleanly in your
    entire canning process. But there is plenty of information out there on how & why
    this method is not satisfactory. Please be safe and do your own research.

    Violet Reply:

    Cheryl (below) did you mean “hi acid foods?”

    Cheryl R Reply:

    Violet,
    Yes, I should have typed ‘hi-acid foods.’ Sorry about that. Another reason to not believe everything you read! :)

  23. Jamie Garcia says

    I made peach juice and I will freeze the rest of the bushel I bought on Thurs/Fri. I really don’t want to peel them, even with the boiling water method (8 months pregnant with 2 under 4yo, oy my ankles!), so I’ll probably just slice, freeze and call it good :)

    Thanks for your advice and instructions on this site Laura!

    [Reply]

  24. RJ says

    Cheryl R.

    You asked for documentation – my family has canned this way for generations and never has there been a problem – of course once in a while a seal will release – but any one with common sense will spot that same as happens with any other method.

    [Reply]

  25. RJ says

    Processing fruit in the way I have described is processed until the fruit is semi-transparent or glassy looking. Thought that I should have included that above. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  26. Jennifer says

    I just canned some peaches today and the liquid does not cover the peaches all the way, but the jars are sealed.

    Is that ok? If not is there anything I can do to fix it?
    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I would say that if the juice ALMOST covers the fruit, you should be okay. If there is a lot less liquid than fruit, you may want to re-can it.

    [Reply]

  27. Roger says

    Really enjoy the education. This is first harvest of the peach picking season. My question is concerning preserving partial picks until I have enough accumulated to do a full batch. I was thinking of taking the whole peach as they come off of the tree and storing in 5 gallon pails filled with cold water. How much good or bad might this do?????? Thanks in advance.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, storing them in a bucket of cold water would be fine. Storing them directly in the fridge until you’re ready to use them is a little bit better though.

    [Reply]

  28. Wesley Turner says

    Laura,,, When I was young ( many years ago ) growing up in Mississippi , I remember my family canning everything
    making all kinds of jam’s jelly syrup you name it we made it , this year is the first time I have ever tried to put up anything and it was peaches I live in eastern North Carolina and it will stay HOT till early December , my question is do I need to keep my jams jelly canned peaches in a cool place or will they be ok in a dark dry place ( my garage ) average temperature I guess about out 75 to 80 degrees
    Thanks for your Help ******** your recipe worked great

    [Reply]

  29. says

    http://www.thesynergycompany.com/v/articles_vitc2.html

    This is a website that will show you all the information regarding ascorbic acid and that it is NOT a natural substitute for Vitamin C. It has been a huge misconception for many years (way too long). All the products that are carried in Organic or Natural Health Stores are not always what they seem. It is up to us to do the research. Like any business they are in the business to make money.
    I do love what you are doing with your site and enjoy your postings I just felt the need to say something when it came to your one statement. Thanks for all you do. Please check it out and see for yourself.

    [Reply]

  30. Kate says

    If I don’t have ascorbic acid and am planning on using lemon juice, how much lemon juice is needed for quarts of peaches and pints? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I would just put 1/2-1 teaspoon of lemon juice into each jar. :)

    [Reply]

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