Summertime is the time for peaches! And if you are like many of the people in my family, you wish you could enjoy their fresh taste all year. Canning peaches is incredibly easy and allows you to get that delicious Georgia peach taste even in the dead of winter.
We typically buy a 25lb box of peaches (half a bushel) and get about 13 quarts of peaches out of it. Not a lot, but still enough for at least one jar a month.
To begin, make sure your peaches are soft, but not overripe. If the peaches are too tough, they'll be difficult to peel. If too soft, you'll run into the same problem. And instead of leaving them in the box to ripen, spread them out on a table. This will separate any that have small bruises from the rest of the bunch and will keep the good peaches from rotting.
Once your peaches are ready, simply peel the skins from the outside of your peaches. I typically use a sharp, small knife for this job. If the skins don't come off easily, you can dip the peaches in boiling water for 10-30 seconds and then immediately submerge them in ice water. The point is not to cook the peaches, but to loosen the skin.
After peeling your peaches, slice them in half and take out the pit. The easiest way to get the pit out is with a spoon. Gently loosen around the pit and it'll pop right out.
Place your peach halves pit side down in WIDE mouth jars. Using wide mouths allows you to fit peach halves in your jars. You may think that cutting the peaches into smaller slices will allow you to fit more, but after experimentation, we've found that you can fit the same amount whether you use quarters or halves.
Fill the jar with your peach halves.
Make a syrup of sugar and water. You'll want 1 cup sugar to every 3 cups water. It takes about a cup and half to fill each jar, so make plenty of this. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is melted. Do not boil this as you don't want your good syrup to boil down.
Pour the syrup into the jars over the peaches leaving 1/2" of headspace. Remove bubbles and place the lid and ring on the jar.
Process the jars at 5lb pressure for 10 minutes and then allow to cool completely.
Note: For reasons I can't explain, some jars do lose liquid during the pressure canning stage. These jars are still fine to store so long as the seal is good. If you store the jars for several years, you may find some browning on the top peaches. Just remove those peaches and eat the ones underneath. But really, these peaches aren't going to last several years! You'll have eaten them long before that!!