Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adventures in Home Preserving: Peaches in Syrup

It has been an amazing summer for stone fruit this year, and we've been enjoying so many cherries, plums and peaches.  I swear I am going to post a recipe for vegan cherry pie soon!  In the meantime, here's a look at some peach canning that happened last weekend.

Last summer, I made brandied peaches, following a recipe from the New York Times in 1951, adapted according to the most up-to-date canning knowledge by Eugenia Bone.  It was my first experiment in home preserving, and they came out beautifully--we enjoyed the peaches throughout the winter.

This summer, my roommate and I decided to try again.  I love peaches, and I wanted a simple recipe that would just showcase the deliciousness of ripe summer fruit.  We bought 20 pounds of peaches from Blossom Bluff Orchards at the Farmers Market (I like to do a lot at once, no a couple jars at a time for me!).  We adapted a couple of recipes to our own purposes, and I have posted our method below.  We'll let you know how the peaches turn out!  At least they look beautiful!

Warning - must pay attention to safely preserve.  If the jars are not properly sealed, botulism can grow in them.  You will know if your peaches go bad because the seal will not have held, and as I understand, the fruit will smell bad.  I don't know from experience because I don't have much.  Practice safe canning, ok?

This recipe has many steps, but none of them are difficult, read them all before you begin.  Invite friends.

Peaches in Syrup
Makes 12 pints of peaches
Takes 3 to 4 hours

approximately 20 to 24 firm-ripe and large peaches (8 to 10 pounds)
8 cups sugar

You will need 3 large pots of water, a wire rack to fit inside the pots, 12 pint jars, lids and bands.

In two large pots, deep enough so that the pint jars can sit on the wire rack and be fully covered in water, bring a lot of water to a boil.  Will take time, so go ahead with other steps as the water comes to a full boil.

Mark an x on the tip end of each peach to help with the peeling.  Scald the peaches for 30 seconds each in a different large pot of boiling water.  Here is a before and after shot of the peaches.

Let cool on a baking tray.  When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, pit the peach, and cut into fourths.  Remove any bruised and brown parts.  Place peach pieces in scalded jars*, 1 and a half to two peaches per jar.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan bring the sugar and 8 cups of water to a boil, and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened to the consistency of maple syrup.  

It's a lot of sugar!
Fill the jars with the sugar syrup, leaving 1/4 inch of room at the top.  At this stage you can add spices to the jars, we put crushed cardamom pods (one per jar) in some, a small spring of rosemary in others.  Using a chopstick, make sure there are no air bubbles trapped under the fruit pieces.  Wipe the mouths of the jars with a clean cloth, cover with the lids, and screw the bands on until tight.

When the water has come to a boil, gently lower your jars into the water.  Beginning your timer when the water returns to a boil (this may take time), process peaches for 25 minutes.  Make sure they are covered with water the entire time.  Remove the jars from the water and let cool.  You will hear them *pop!* as they seal.

*  To scald the jars: since you will process the peaches for more than 10 minutes, you do not need to sterilize the jars.  Instead, when your water for processing comes to a boil, dip the bottles for just a few seconds each into the water, remove and keep them waiting.  Do the same for the rings.  And when the water is at a simmer (either lower the temperature, or the temperature will lower as you scald the jars), simmer the lids so that the bands soften.

Eugenia Bone's website is a great resource for preservation advice.  She is very cautious, and clear in her instructions.


  1. wow that really is a lot of preserved peaches. Yummy! and you're right, they are gorgeous.

  2. Well done, ladies! They are beautiful!

  3. amazing! i bet they're delicious. Loving following your food adventures.