Canning Peaches

It seems like such an accomplishment when fruit trees finally start producing. Peaches, pears, apples…Which is kind of funny considering we don’t do very much work with them. Really, it’s all the tree. When my sister gave my dad a peach tree for his birthday one year I was sure my parents would move to their retirement home before it started producing. To my wonderful surprise, we got our first harvest last year. We were rookies at trying to preserve peaches but we did it! We got so many peaches that we still had a few quarts leftover this year too. For our second year, we did much better! Follow along and I’ll give you all my best tips & tricks for canning peaches. 


The first key is to make sure that your peaches are ripe. This might mean that you have to do multiple batches of peaches to make sure that they are fully ripe. Last year we thought that they were ripe enough and we had a really hard time trying to get the skins off. The other key to this is to make sure that you are pruning your tree. If the fruit is really small you will have a much harder time trying to get it to be the right level of ripeness. To be honest, this is still something we are learning about and working through so I can’t give too much advice. All I can say is keep trying! My dad literally made wooden stands for his tree branches so they wouldn’t break from the weight of the fruit this year. Obviously, that’s not ideal! However, we will keep working on that one and perhaps someday I’ll be able to explain the best way to prune a peach tree too.

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Removing the Skins

The first step in canning is to remove the skins. I’ve searched several times and I haven’t found any recipes that keep the skins on. Part of my search was through the “rebel” canner groups on Facebook too so I’m thinking that there must be something with the skins that require you to take them off. Well, other than the fact that they are fuzzy and can be tough at times. 

The easiest ways to remove the skins is to boil the peaches. Most people say to boil them for 30 seconds but that has never ever worked for us. We’ve tried it both years and it just wasn’t doing the trick. We leave ours in for 1-2 minutes or until we see the peels starting to flap off in the water. To be quite frank here I forgot a batch in the pot for awhile (like 10 minutes) and they still turned out just fine. Don’t feel like you need to set a timer and make this super specific. Also, the water will turn black by your second or third batch of peaches. I’m not entirely sure why but it always does. 

Boil peaches first.
Boil peaches first. Yes, the water turns black!

Once they are boiled you should put them into ice cold water. Within a few minutes you should be able to peel the skins right off and feed them to your chickens! If you have some that are a little more tough you can use a knife or potato peeler to get the skins off too. If you find yourself having to do that for every peach they may not be ripe enough or you might not be boiling them long enough. 

Put peaches in cold water after boiling.
Put peaches in cold water after being boiled.

Slice & Raw Pack

Before proceeding to the next step you will want to make sure that your jars are washed and sterilized. You will need them right away once you start cutting these up and they will turn brown if you don’t move quickly. Slice up the peaches, making sure to remove the pits, and place them into the clean jars.

Leftovers while canning peaches.
Peach leftovers. We don’t give the pits to the chickens but they get the skins!

Syrup / Hot Liquid

We tend to do things in terms of water bath batches. We prefer quarts for peaches so we will pack approx. 7 quart jars of peaches and then fill them with syrup/liquid. The reason that I say liquid is that there is a little known secret that you can actually can your peaches and just fill the jars with hot water. SURPRISE! I’ve followed people on Instagram who have done it for years and that is how we’ve chosen to do our peaches too. The only reason for using syrup is to make the peaches more sweet. We choose to limit our sweeteners around here so there is no need for any extra sugar. Of course, you can also use honey too but the price of honey is pretty high and we’d need quite a bit to be able to can all the peaches (and pears) which is why we opted for water.

The National Center for Home Food preservation gives a great guide on ratios for sugar and water for syrups, shown below.

However, as I mentioned some of us try to limit sugar. You can also use honey, agave, or even other fruit juices as the sweetener. The best thing to do is to find your personal level of sweetness needed. From there you will pick which syrup you want to use for canning peaches.

A very light syrup with honey is just 1/2 cup of honey per 12 cups of water. You can then increase this as needed to make more sweet syrup:

  • Light: 1 cup honey per 12 cups water
  • Medium: 1 ½ cups honey per 12 cups of water
  • Heavy: 2 cups honey per 12 cups of water
  • Very Heavy: 2 ½ cups honey per 12 cups of water

Syrup Preparation

To prepare the syrup you’ve chosen for canning peaches you will heat the water and the sweetener together. Once they come to a boil they are ready to go. We typically keep a rolling batch going so that we always have some ready to go by the time the jars get done. As I mentioned, the peaches will turn brown if you leave them sitting in the jars with no liquid. Once filled, place a clean lid and ring on the jar (finger tight).  

Water Bath Instructions

Fill your canner with water and get it boiling. For 0-1000 altitude, process pints for 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes. Once they are done remove them from the canner and let them sit for 24 hours. Your lid should be secured and not make that “plink” sound when pushed on. If it does, your jar has not sealed and you should put it in your fridge to eat it right away.

Finished product of canning peaches.
Finished peaches.

In Summary: Canning Peaches

Canning peaches takes a lot of work but that is only because we have so much volume. Honestly, they are fairly simple to do once you get rolling. We tend to do a whole tree in 1-2 days so the work that goes into it leaves us exhausted. However, it feels so darn good to haul them all down to my shelves and know that we will have “fresh” fruit for the entire year. Fruits and veggies can be so hard to get when you are stuck in the depths of winter! 

What is your favorite fruit to preserve and why? I think I’d have to say my favorite is apples because we make applesauce, apple pie, and apple slices. I love the variety and the fact that by the time we are doing apples it’s pretty much the end of the canning season and the beginning of fall. Fall is the best!

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