Think ahead to preserve peaches in their prime. You’ll be thanking us later.

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If you could capture the flavor of Southern summer in a jar, what would it taste like? If you live in Savannah, you may say that summer tastes like a double-scoop of Leopold’s butter pecan ice cream. Or if you’re from Memphis, maybe summer tastes like Rendezvous’ charcoal-grilled ribs and tangy-sweet coleslaw. But no matter where in the South you are, you can probably agree that summer tastes like fresh peaches.

During the cold winter months, there’s no sweeter dream than of juicy, ripe peaches, overflowing in crates at the farmers’ market or plucked right from our backyard trees. This year, capture that summertime spirit by canning your extra peaches to eat all year long. Think ahead to preserve peaches’ prime freshness now. You’ll be thanking us later.

How to Can Peaches

To can peaches, there are two different techniques that you can use: steam canning or waterbath canning. We’ll be using the more traditional waterbath technique, which is said to work well for highly acidic foods like peaches. It is possible to DIY your waterbath canner, but it’s worth investing in a waterbath canner or full canning kit (available on Amazon) to ensure you have all the proper equipment.

To can your own peaches, you’ll need the following materials:

Instructions

  1. Prepare the jars: Wash your mason jars and lids on the sterilize setting on your dishwasher.
  2. Prepare your equipment: Fill the waterbath canner with water and bring to a boil. Pre-heat the jars and lids in hot water.
  3. Prepare the peaches: In a separate large pot, bring water to a boil. Drop the peaches in hot water for 30-60 seconds, then place them immediately in cold water to stop them from cooking and peel the skins off. Halve the peaches, remove and discard the pits and any brown or mushy spots. You can leave the peaches halved or slice according to your preference.
  4. Make the simple syrup: While it’s possible to can peaches raw, adding simple syrup helps preserve their color and form. Make a simple syrup by combining a ratio of 1 cup of sugar to ½ cup of water in a pot, bringing to a boil and stirring well until the sugar dissolves. Optional: add ¼ cup of lemon juice as a natural preservative.
  5. Can the peaches: Remove jars from preheating in the canner with jar lifters. Fill each preheated jar with peaches, and pack them in tightly. Pour the simple syrup over the peaches until there is ½ inch of headspace between the jar’s contents and the lid (peach and syrup mixture should fill up to the neck of jar). Wipe the rims of the jars and lightly tap on countertop to ensure there are no air bubbles. Use jar lifters to remove lids from water, place the lids on the jars and screw ring on tightly to secure.
  6. Seal the jars: Use jar lifters to place sealed jars in the waterbath canner. Make sure that the water covers the tops of the jars by 1-2 inches. Place lid on waterbath canner and leave jars to process in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. After processing is complete, spread a towel out on your counter or table, use jar lifters to remove jars from the waterbath canner, and place the jars on the towel. Leave cans to rest for 1-2 hours, then check to ensure they are sealed. Check the seal by pressing on the center of the lid. If they are properly sealed, the lid will not pop back up and you will not hear any noise. If the lid pops up, the jar did not seal properly and needs to be refrigerated and eaten in the next few days. Once the properly sealed jars cool, store them in a dry place.

These canned peaches will last for a whole year to bring a little bit of sunshine to those dreary winter months. We recommend storing them in a dry spot in your kitchen so guests can marvel at their gorgeous color and your impressive handiwork.

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You can be sure that, in the case of an apocalypse, us Southerners will be prepared with shelves full of canned peaches. It’s like preserving summertime in a jar.

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