My parents have had a peach tree in our yard for as long as I can remember and this year, the tree produced more peaches than it ever has before.
With more than enough peaches to eat, my father mentioned how we should look into peach preserves.
My mother jumped on the idea and began to research different recipes.
Most of them called for pectin which helps with jams and jellies but my mother and I wanted to can our peaches without pectin.
- 4 pounds of fresh peaches
- 3 cups of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of water
Gather the mason jars along with the bands you’ll be using and place them in hot, soapy water and scrub them thoroughly.
Even if you’re using new jars, check them for chips and cracks, and make sure they are in good condition.
Wash them good inside and out.
Once they are rinsed set them aside.
Now you’ll need to set up your stove.
On the back left is the smaller pot I use to warm up my lids and bands.
On the back right is a somewhat larger pot that I keep filled with just water.
It’s recommended to keep extra hot water in that pot to add it to the canning pot as needed.
On the front left is the pot that I used to cook my jams and jellies in. Then, the big pot on the right is the canner itself.
I fill the canner pot about 3/4th full of fresh water and will use this to sterilize my jars to begin.
I place the rubber ring side up in a pot of warm water. (This is the pot that’s on the back left burner.)
Turn the heat down to the lowest or next to lowest setting.
The lids just need to warm up a bit to soften the red rubber ring that’s on them.
You never boil the lids as it could damage the rubber ring and cause the jars not to seal.
I place the bands right on top of the lids inside the same pot.
We let them gently warm up as well.
Next, we placed the washed and rinsed jars inside the canner pot.
My mother scrubbed the canner and filled it with cold water.
We just lay my jars on their side in the cold water and will sometimes have the smaller jars laying on top of each other.
I suggest that you place a cloth towel inside for the jars to rest on so they aren’t touching the bottom of the pot.
The intense heat at the bottom could cause them to break once the canner starts to heat up.
With all the jars in the canner, turn the heat up to almost High and let the jars start to come to a boil.
Once the jars reach a low boil, they need to continue to boil for 15 minutes to sterilize them.
Lightly rinse the peaches under cold running water to remove any dirt of fuzz.
Heat up a pot of water in a large sauce pot.
Once it comes to a low boil, drop in the peaches.
Let them stay in this hot water for about 2 minutes.
After about two minutes, remove the peaches from the hot water and drop them into some ice cold water in your sink. (Heating the peaches for a couple of minutes makes it a lot easier to remove the skins.)
Depending on the peaches, the skins may just pretty much slip off right in your hand.
Or you can take a paring knife and grab a piece of the skin and easily peel it away. Remove the skin from all of the peaches.
Just drop them back in the water until you have them all peeled.
We removed the skin from each peach. Then, slice the peach in half.
Pull the peach apart and remove the pit.
Then, slice the peach into quarters and then cut each slice into one or two chunks.
Place the cut peaches into a bowl and add the lemon juice. (This will help keep them from turning brown so quickly.
Take a spoon and gently toss the peaches around to coat them all with the lemon juice.
Just mash them up a bit but you want to leave some small bits of peach and you don’t want it to turn to complete liquid.
Place a large sauce pot on your stove and turn the heat to the Medium heat setting. Once it’s heated up a bit, add the water.
Add in the sugar and start stirring.
Continue to stir the water and sugar mixture until the sugar has pretty much dissolved.
Add the chopped peaches to the pot and keep stirring. Since we didn’t add any pectin, the mixture will have to cook down until it thickens.
It’s really easy to walk away and let it burn.
I know you don’t want that to happen. Just let it continue to cook and keep stirring until it starts to thicken.
You don’t want to scorch or burn it but it does need to thicken up a good bit. You can see this happen by lifting the spoon about 12 inches up out of the pot and letting the syrup drip off the spoon. Start doing this when it thickens up a bit and continue to do it to watch the progress it’s making.
Soon, you’ll start to notice that it’s not running off the spoon as fast as when you first started. When two drops of the jam sheet together as you drip it from the spoon, it’s ready to jar up. If you scoop up a spoonful, it should also mound up a bit on your spoon.
Another way to test is by placing a saucer in your freezer when you start to cook the jam. Pull this cold saucer out and drop a teaspoon or so onto the cold plate. Tilt it sideways a bit and watch the mixture.
Now we fill the jars.
Remove the peach jam from the stove, skim off any foam and discard it if you have any.
Pull a plate up along side the sauce pot and place one of the warm jars from the canner in the plate.
Remember, the jars need to have boiled for 15 minutes to sterilize them.
Take the jam off the stove and use some tongs or the jar lifter to remove the jars from the boiling water in the canner.
It’s best to sit them on a towel when you take them out. The jars are hot and sitting a hot jar on a cold counter top could cause the jar to break.
Place the funnel in the jar.
Use a ladle and spoon the jam into the jars.
Fill the jar to about 1/4 of an inch from the top and remove the funnel.
Now to remove any air bubbles, a butter knife will also do a good job.
Slip the knife into the jar and gently run it through the middle and around the sides of the jar.
The object is to remove any air bubbles that might be inside the jar.
Get out as many as you can.
Grab a clean damp cloth and carefully wipe off the thread area of the outside top of each jar. Then, make sure you wipe carefully across the top of each jar.
You need to remove any food particles that might have dripped onto the jar as they could prevent a proper seal when the lid comes into contact with the jar surface.
Be very careful because the jars will be very hot.
Try not to touch the bottom part of the lid with the red rubber seal. Don’t worry about any water left on it, that’s not a problem.
Carefully center the lid onto the top of the cleaned jar rim.
Screw it down lightly, making sure it’s going on straight and even.
Repeat this process until all the jars are filled.
When all the jars have been filled, place them in the rack inside the canner.
Give each jar space so that water may flow evenly between them all.
The jars need to be under 1 to 2 inches of water.
This is also where that extra pot of hot water boiling on the back can come in handy.
With the jars lowered into the canner and with the proper amount of water over them, watch for the water to come back to a rolling boil.
When it’s boiling, place the lid on the canner and start timing this water bath process.
We left the lid on for about 10-15 minutes.
Once the jars have gone through the water bath process for the proper amount of time, turn the heat off and carefully remove the lid. Remember to lift the lid AWAY from you as there will be hot steam underneath and it hurts.
Now, use your tongs and grab the jars and place them on a towel nearby maybe on the counter.
The jars need to rest here for 5 minutes. You may even start hearing some of them “ping” at this point. That’s a good thing!
After five minutes, use the jar lifter and remove the jars one by one.
Sit them in a draft free location.
Also, make sure you keep them on a folded towel.
The jars are super hot and placing them on a cold counter could cause them to burst. The jars need to be away from any air vents so they can have time to rest and properly seal.
Try and resist the temptation to press down on the center of the lid for at least 24 hours.
The lids have a slight “bubble” in the middle.
As the jars go through this water bath process, the contents inside will heat up. When the jars are removed from the canner, the air inside of the jar gets sucked out and causes that bubble in the lid to pull down. That’s the familiar “ping.”
Just let them set in this spot for 24 hours to cool.
After 24 hours, THEN you can press the tops of the jars to make sure they sealed.
If the center bubble spot bounces back up, the jar didn’t seal. The jam inside is still good and you should just place that jar in the refrigerator and eat it first.
After waiting a whole 24 hours, this was our final result:
The whole process took about seven hours which I was not expecting but I am so proud of my mother and I since this was our first time “canning,” and this will forever be a memory I keep of ours.