Canning Peaches: Step-by-Step Guide

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on August 17, 2014

Canned Peaches

How to Can Peaches

In August, peaches start to ripen and hang heavy from the branches. Whether you pick your own or buy them from your local farmers market or produce stand, fresh peaches are sticky, sweet summertime treats.

Early varieties of peaches are generally available in late July or early August. Later varieties should be available through mid-late September.

canning peaches

If you buy or pick large quantities of fruit, it’s a good idea to spread it out in one layer so you don’t end up with a mushy mess when the fruit starts to ripen. I also add a small bowl of apple cider vinegar (with a couple drops of dish soap) to the mix to keep the fruit fly population down. It works beautifully.

If you are planning to can peaches, you want to be sure you pick up freestone, cling-free fruit. This means the skins will slip off easier and the fruit won’t cling to the pit. Wait until your fruit is nice and ripe before you start, or peeling and pitting will just be an exercise in frustration.

Below is an illustrated guide to canning peaches using the cold/raw pack method. Everybody has their own little quirks or variations, but this is a basic guide to get you started:

canning lids and rings

To avoid stressful canning times, I follow two rules:

  1. I (almost) never can alone. There is safety in numbers. Small groups of 2-4 turn a long, hot job into a fun, productive day.
  2. I prep as much as possible in advance.

Canning equipment

  • Small pot – sanitize the lids. Place the lids (and rings, if desired) in a small pot of water. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes to activate the seal and sanitize the lids.
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  • Large pot – sugar syrup. I prefer light syrup. The ratio is 3 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar. For a full cannerof 7 jars, you’ll need about 9 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. Combine in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. This pot can be kept on the stove on low heat. Edited on 8/14/13: Reader Ruth left a tip to keep the syrup warm in a slow cooker on the counter. I switched to this method. It works great and opens up space on your stove top!
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  • Canner – 7 jar capacity. Canners cost a whopping $17. If you have enough time, energy, and space, you could keep two canners humming at the same time. Fill the canner about halfway up with water. Keep the water warm but not scalding. You should be able to comfortably touch the water with your bare hand. Keeping it warm will decrease the amount of time you have to wait to bring it to boiling for the final step of processing the jars.
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  • Shallow pot – Blanching the peaches. Place the peaches in the hot water for approximately 30 seconds. Remove them to a ice cold water bath. They will cool and be easier to peel. Some peach varieties will be easy enough to peel that you can skip blanching altogether. This is a good thing.
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  • Wash your jars. Make sure they are clean and free of cracks. Also, run your finger around the rims to make sure there are no nicks as this will prevent your lids from sealing to the jars.

peeling peaches

Are you still with me? Hang in there. The prep work is the tedious part; it gets easier from here.

Peel, pit, and cut up the peaches. You can slice, quarter, or halve them. Whatever floats your boat. I like quarters. They’re easy to pop off the pit and fit nicely into the jars. It takes 4-5 medium peaches (about 2 1/2 pounds) to fill one quart. Around 18 pounds should fill one canner of 7 quart jars.

Fill up one jar at a time. Pack the peaches to within 1 inch of the top of the jar, which will be around the bottom of the threaded neck. Shake gently to settle the peaches into their new home. I go for speed; not beauty. My sister always says, “We won’t be winning any 4-H ribbons at the fair.” True enough. However, by gently stacking the peaches in the jar with the pit-cavity side down, they fit and look better.

Depending on the variety of peaches you are canning, they may darken slightly from the time they are cut. It personally doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it. If you are going for that blue ribbon, you can use either Fruit Fresh or lemon juice to keep the color bright and peachy.

canning peaches

Using the warm prepared syrup, fill the jars to within about 1/2 inch of the top. You can use a soup ladle or pour the syrup directly from the pot into the jars. The peaches should be covered with the syrup. Syrup helps maintain the flavor & texture of the peaches.

Slide a plastic utensil between the jar and the peaches, gently pushing into the peaches to release any air bubbles that might be trapped. Do this several times, working your way around the jar.

peaches in canning jars

Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean towel. Place a sterilized lid on each jar and screw on the ring fingertip-tight.

water bath canner

Using a jar lifter, slowly lower the jars into a canner filled with warm water. The tops of the jars should be covered with at least one inch of water. If you are using the cold pack method, you want to make sure the water is not too hot, otherwise the jars will crack and all your hard work will spill into the canner.

Cold jars + hot water = bad news. Not that I speak from experience. Ok, ok. I totally speak from experience. I’ve had several jars of peaches sink to a watery grave this way.

Put the lid on the canner. Bring to a boil. Once the water is up to a boil, set the timer and process for 30 minutes in the simmering water.

canned peaches

When the timer goes off, use the jar lifter again to move the jars to a drying rack or towel on the counter top to cool. As they cool, the lids will seal. Sometimes they give off a satisfying “pop”; sometimes they don’t. After a few hours, you can check the lids by gently running your finger over the top. If they are sucked in, they are sealed.

If any jars don’t seal, you can still use them. Just move the jar to the refrigerator and use within a few days. After 24 hours, remove the rings (can be re-used), rinse the jars, and store the canned peaches in a cool, dark place.

home canned peaches

There you have it, Canning Peaches 101. See? It’s totally possible for the first-time canner. Like many things in life, canning does take time and effort and attention. You will be tired. Your countertops will be sticky. Your children will be eating Cheerios off the floor. But those jars of golden goodness lining your kitchen shelves will make it all worth it.

Check out our Canning Guides for more helpful information to get you started.

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canner

A Water Bath Canner with Rack is a surprisingly inexpensive investment. You can often find these secondhand for around $10; Amazon carries this new steel/porcelain canner, which is what I own, for less than $20. This 21 1/2 quart capacity will hold up to seven jars.

Find more frugal homemaking posts here and a list of amazing recipes here.

This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Iona Rowley August 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

I am having problems with my fruit shrinking during the process. What could be my problem. I do it the way u have just outlined and seem to have done same for years,

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Carol July 31, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Thanks for the gr8 tutorial! I’ve canned all my life but at 74, I needed a refresher course. Love the idea of crock pot to keep syrup warm! Also wasn’t sure about when to use the Fruit Fresh. Thanks!

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Emily January 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

This is a great step-by-step guide! I am a Master Food Preserver; I re-certify annually through OR State Univ. Extension. . . . I do have one thing to add to your canning process to keep your product safe & your make certain your jars seal. If you are hot packing your peaches, the processing time is 25 min. However, if you are raw-packing you need 30 min. I like to hot-pack to keep the peaches from floating to the top of the jar. Also, after your processing time is up, turn off the heat & remove the canner lid. Wait 5 min. before removing jars. If you are canning at an altitude above 1000 feet, check USDA guidelines for adjustments.

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Dave October 5, 2013 at 9:02 am

Emily – This a great “how-to” article. Well written, with a personal touch and conveying the message in an easy to understand and follow manner. Keep on writing!

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Inge September 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I have a question what can I use in place of sugar a friend cant have sugar will just plain water with Stay Fresh or a little white grape juice with out sugar or just a little lemon juice do the trick
Please help

Thanks Inge

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Diane September 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Thanks great job
I did not have liquid syrup hot when pouring into jars over peaches Is this a problem?

Diane

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Dave October 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

Hi Diane,
It’s no problem. It will just take a lot longer to get to a boil.
Dave

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Jan September 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I know this is an old post but wanted to let fellow canners know about The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. I went today and bought 20 lbs of Barlett pears for $8.00…also 20 lbs of tomatoes for $16.99. Worth canning for these prices.

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Dina August 8, 2014 at 11:06 pm

2014….are these prices still the same now? I’ve been looking for places to go

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MaryPat August 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Try purchasing a Back To Basics 7 Quart Steam Canner. It’s made of lightweight aluminum. It uses very little water since it steams the jars & takes less time to process.

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Cindy August 25, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Thank you! Your easy instructions inspired me. I am finishing up a busy Sunday! I’ve never canned without my mother and she never canned peaches but your instructions were so easy, I just knew I could. We made a trip to the local pick your own farm (which is who shared a link to your website) and got fresh peaches and blackberries. I made peach butter, blackberry jelly and canned peaches – none of which will make it to Christmas I’m afraid. I see another busy weekend or two in my future, if I want Christmas gifts as I’ve planned. Thanks again!

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Joyce August 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Can I put sliced peaches into water containing ascorbic acid until I can get them packed into jars?

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Emilie D. August 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Yes you can. I just squirt some lemon juice in a large bowl with cold water and as I am slicing the peaches I put them in the water as they are waiting to be put in the jars.

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Joyce August 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Thanks, Emilie!

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Leslie August 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Thank you for the GREAT step by step visual. I remembered most of this, which my grandmother taught me, but wonderful that you put it to words and pictures! Thank you mucho.

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gloria August 22, 2013 at 2:42 am

Great tutorial. I hadn’t canned in years but helped my daughter and SIL do 48 jars Sunday afternoon. She uses an electric teakettle for the syrup. Works great, just pour into the jars. Does anybody know….is it OK to can in Ball 1/2 gallon jars. We did some and seemed to be fine. She waterbathed them in her pressure cooker kettle with just a regular pot lid on it. It was tall enough for the jars.

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Karen August 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I followed it precisely and now have 6 quarts of peaches cooling on my counter. This was easy to follow without being overly “wordy”. Truly appreciate it!

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Cindy Adkins August 17, 2013 at 4:12 am

Thank for this great information. I haven’t ever canned peaches, so this will sure make my job much smoother and easier.

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Robin August 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Thanks for the great tutorial and especially the comment from Ruth for keeping the syrup warm in a crock pot….great idea as it frees up my stovetop.

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Ruth July 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm

One thing I tried last year that worked great is keeping the syrup warm in a crock pot. I am going to can peaches for the first time this year! Love!

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Jennifer July 16, 2013 at 9:07 pm

You’re right! That “Pop” is VERY satisfying! Especially for my first time canning anything. Thanks for the instructions!

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Joyce June 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I’m considering ordering peaches from Zaycon Foods this year. Were yours easy to peel? I’ve been canning Veterans for several years. I can peel and slice enough for 7 quarts and they don’t turn brown. I like them for their flavor, ease of peeling without blanching and the pit comes right out, but I’m open to trying a new variety if they’re as nice to work with. :-)

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Emily from Frugal Living NW June 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm

The year I ordered Zaycon’s peaches, they were the best I have ever eaten or processed. Easy to pit & peel, didn’t brown, and incredible flavor. I don’t know if this year’s peaches will be the same variety, but I am hoping they are (with a big order to prove it…)!

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Katherine September 11, 2012 at 6:15 am

This is the first year this much canning has gone on in my kitchen. My mother always canned lots of stuff, but I had no interest. This year, however, between her, my sister, and my boyfriend I’ve helped can blackberry jam, spaghetti sauce, salsa, apple sauce and now peaches. It takes time, but all those jars look so pretty. I think pears are next. :)

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Emily September 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm

So happy to hear this! Welcome to the craziness. I think the finished jars are so pretty, too. I’m always tempted to display them on my bookshelves.

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Oneita Feeney August 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm

How long will home-canned peaches and blueberries last?

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Emily August 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm

According to Balls Blue Book Guide to Preserving, canned food can be safely stored for up to a year. After one year, the food should still be edible (mine has definitely lasted longer) but you may notice a decrease in quality (flavor, color, texture, or nutritional value). Storing your finished jars in a cool, dry, dark place will help prolong their shelf life.

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Aimee @ Chickenville November 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I usually only freeze our peaches, but I did can some last year. They were amazing! I was surprised how much they retained their fresh picked taste. So unlike store canned. Since I had only used the frozen ones for cobblers and such, it was nice to serve them straight out.

I love the idea of canning with others. I need to find some locals who enjoy canning. So few people do it these days.

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Teri Woods September 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Instead of making a syrup and getting sticky everywhere, I put a 1/4 cup of sugar into each jar than ladle hot water into the jar. After putting the lid and band on, I invert the jar 3 or 4 times before popping into the canner. Makes a perfect syrup. This is a light syrup. For a very light syrup use 1.5 to 2 tablespoons per jar (4 tablespoons is 1/4 cup).

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Erin @ Coupon Newbie September 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Great tutorial. You gave me the confidence to try canning peaches for the first time. I did 20 lbs, but it was so easy I might go back for another 20 lbs box. Thanks!

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Christina September 5, 2011 at 10:50 pm

By the way… thanks for the LOVELY tutorial! I *think* I got your website through Bountiful Baskets. I believe they provided a link because your tutorial was so well done. I’m really sad that I missed out on Zaycon. My friends have been trying to get me to register. I finally did it tonight. Hopefully, they’ll do peaches one more time. If not, I’ll have to be satisfied with applesauce!

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Christina September 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

If anyone is interested, Fred Meyer has all of their canning supplies on sale for 25% off through September 10. Also, there is an in-ad coupon this week for an extra 10% off housewares that you can use. I went and picked up a 7qt water bath canner plus a 6-piece accessory kit (the lid lifter, funnel, wrench, tongs, etc.) and got the whole mess for $24 out the door!

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Julie September 2, 2011 at 10:02 pm

My children eat Cherrios off the floor daily! No canning needed for that. haha. You’ve totally inspired me. I need to find myself some cheap peaches.

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Michelle September 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Where will you be getting peaches this weekend? I am desperate to find somewhere near me to get them, but the orchards I usually go to all had bad seasons. It looks like I missed the Zaycon deal, but if not let me know.

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Emily September 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I skipped picking at orchards this year because our kids are kind of at tough ages to make it an even semi-enjoyable outing. You can find local orchards at http://www.pickyourown.org

You can also call orchards to find out if you could coordinate a pick-up at a local farmers market where they sell. You might get a better price this way without having to pick your own.

Finally, call local produce markets. I have happily used Growers Outlet (161st & Glisan in Portland) for the past 2 years. See what kind of deal they can swing you.

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melissa September 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm

where do i get a canner? i want to do start doing this… might have to wait till next year though… but better get my supplies in advance! :)

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Emily September 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Check Fred Meyer or Bi-Mart.

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Sally September 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Great tutorial! One question: where do purchase your canning jars? I usually go to Freddy’s when the are on sale, but the price is still quite a bit. Is there another source for inexpensive canning jars? Thanks!

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Emily September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart, Wilco, or Winco are all stores I have bought jars from with coupons.

Or check with a friend or family member who no longer cans. I got tons of great canning supplies this way from a neighbor two years ago. Also, Craigslist can be a good source.

The nice thing about investing in jars is that once you have a good stash built up, you can re-use them each year.

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Anna September 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I bought some from Fred Meyer last week for around $10. Then I saw them at Albertson’s for less. I think they were around $8.50. Hopefully you can find them for cheap!

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linda August 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I found my best price for jars at Dollar General.

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Carrie September 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I, too, got the Zaycon peaches. AMAZING! Wowee!!

I got all my canning done on Sunday. I worked alone, and would have preferred some help!!

one thing to suggest, use an outdoor cook stove for your canner… that way you don’t scorch your stove, and you can keep the finished product out of your work space… it helps me a ton. I had 3 canners going at one time, and it was nice to have them all outdoors on a hot day!

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Meaghan B September 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Some corrections to your process:

You don’t want to _firmly_ screw on the bands. You want them finger-tight. You need the air in the jar to be able to escape for a proper vacuum seal. It sounds like you haven’t had trouble with this yet but you might in the future. When the bands start resisting, stop screwing them on.

In addition to washing your jars, you should sterilize them in boiling water for five minutes, then leave them in the hot water. This prevents the jars from shattering when you put hot liquid into them. It’s nit-picky but I’ve been canning for 17 years and you’ll occasionally get a jar that shatters if you don’t do this.

There’s an additional reason to store jars bands-off: it prevents lid rust and better lets you see any spoiled/improperly sealed jars.

Have fun canning! I’m neck-deep in tomatoes and jalapenos, myself.

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wynter September 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

cheater, I see those mamma Oakley hands in there! oh, to be back at home with live-in grandparent help for kids and canning! :)

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Carrie September 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

I first canned peaches last year and didn’t do enough – only got 6 quarts, which my kids begged to eat right away. This year I did about 50 lbs, and I hope that’s enough to get us thru winter. I’m a totally novice canner, but it truly is easy and so delicious!

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Joni September 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

Well, you have certainly made this look easy! There are peaches ripening in orchards all around me. I think I’ll do this next week. Thanks for the tutorial, Emily! BTW, your pictures are great!

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