Small Batch Canned Peaches

“Putting up” food for the winter can seem like a daunting task.   had the benefit of watching my grandmother preserve jams, pickles, applesauce and more, and I still had questions when I began canning on my own.

For those who didn’t have the benefit of watching a parent or grandparent, it can be easier to simply skip it.  Yet I find when people have simple, step-by-step instructions along with a reliable resource when additional questions arise, they are more inclined to try.

An interesting bit of trivia: an average of 17½ pounds of peaches would be needed for a full canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 11 pounds is needed for a canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 48 pounds and yields 16 to 24 quarts – an average of 2½ pounds per quart.Because the time required to peel, pit and process such a large load of fruit can be too much, I prefer to can two quart-size jars (or four pint-size jars) at a time. It isn’t overwhelming and, as a result, I’m far more likely to do it! So, consider starting with 5-6 pounds of peaches–or even half that amount to get the feel for how easy the process is if you are new to it.

Following is a basic recipe for canned peaches and, along the way, I’ve tried to answer many of the questions people often ask.  I’ve also provided background on and links to the acknowledged industry experts.  Their sites included trouble-shooting for almost any question or problem imaginable. I’m always happy to answer questions, but these are excellent resources for instant, research-based answers to pressing questions.

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The National Center for Home Food Preservation based at The University of Georgia is a terrific source for current, research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation.  They also have a helpful page dedicated to frequently asked canning questions.  For more step-by-step information on how to can high-acid foods (this includes most fruits, jams and jellies, pickles, salsas and chutneys), the Ball canning company has a helpful page.  (Low-acid foods include most vegetables, some fruits, and meats. To safely preserve them, high-pressure canning is recommended.)

I like to can peaches in halves, but they can also be sliced. Pack peach halves with cavity side down. They pack better and you will fit more in a jar. If you have wide mouth jars, it’s easier to place the peaches in the jar. Choose ripe, mature fruit of the highest quality possible for best results.

Small Batch Canned Peaches
When canning peaches, I recommend a light or medium syrup. Simply heat water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves.

Light syrup – 2 1/4 cups sugar to 5 1/4 cups water (yields 6 1/2 cups syrup)
Medium syrup -3 1/4 cups sugar to 5 cups water (yields 7 cups syrup)

You can also make a syrup with honey if you prefer not to use processed sugar:
Light - 1 1/2 cups honey to 4 cups water
Medium - 2 cups honey to 4 cups water

Leftover syrup will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and can be used in many ways. We enjoy using it for homemade peach iced tea.

Yields 2 quarts or 4 pints.
  • 5 1/2 – 6 pounds peaches
  • Granulated sugar (see comment section, above, for choices)
  • Water
  • 4 pint (16 ounce) or 2 quart (32 ounce) glass canning jars with lids and bands (I like Ball brand which are available in the canning aisle of the grocery store and many discount stores; wide mouth jars make it easier to place peaches in the jar)
  1. *Preparing the Peaches:* Wash and drain the peaches. Loosen the skins by dipping the peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. (Sometimes, I find the skins peel off easily without submerging in boiling water; you may wish to try first.) Dip in cold water to stop the cooking process. The skins should pull off easily. Peaches may be cut in half, quartered, or sliced. To prevent browning of the peaches during the peeling process, keep peeled peaches in “acidified” water. There are several easy options: Mix 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid crystals (Ball has a product called Fruit Fresh) or finely crush six 500 mg Vitamin C tablets in one gallon of water. I like to use 1/4 cup lemon juice for every 1 quart of water.
  2. *Method of Packing in Jars:* Peaches may be packed into the jars raw or hot. Raw packing is a safe method but generally results in a slightly poorer end result than hot packed peaches. Raw packed peaches are more likely to float to the top of the jar, and the jars usually loose some juice through “siphoning,” which means that liquid seeps out of the jars as they are cooling. When siphoning occurs, tiny food particles may lodge between the jar and the lid causing the jar not to seal properly. Because heating the peaches drives air out of the raw fruit, hot packed peaches are less likely to float, more peaches fit into the jar, and the juice is less likely to seep out when the jars cool. (If seepage does occurs, wipe the jars clean when cool. As long as the jars seal, they are fine to use.)
  3. *Sweetening with Sugar Syrups:* Peaches may be covered with your choice of sugar syrup, water, or even apple, pear, or white grape juice. Sugar is not needed for _safety_ in canning fruit; but in addition to adding flavor, sugar in the liquid helps to keep the texture of the fruit firm and to preserve the color. I recommend a light to medium syrup. (I use medium syrup and the hot pack method described below; see ratios of sugar to water in above comment section.) Heavier sugar syrups will cause fruit to float more than lighter syrups or juice packs. Artificial sweeteners are not recommended as they will not preserve the color and texture of the fruit as sugar does.
  4. *Method of Packing in Jars and Processing:* To *hot pack* peaches, place enough peaches for one or two jars (2 1/2 to 3 pounds of peaches will fill a one-quart jar) into the boiling syrup in a single layer, and return to a boil. You will use less syrup when you hot pack because heating the peaches will draw peach juice into the boiling syrup. If you don’t heat the peaches through completely (it takes about 3 minutes for peach halves), they may still shrink a little, but not as much as if you had raw packed them. Remove the peaches carefully and fill the jars to within ½ inch of the top. Add hot syrup or other liquid to within ½ inch of top. Remove air bubbles (I gently swipe around the inside of the jar with a wooden chopstick, although there are special gadgets for this), wipe the jar rim with a wet paper towel, and adjust the lids. The lids should be “fingertip” tight (and do not tighten them further after processing–the bands can actually be removed at that point.) Process hot packed pints 20 minutes and quarts 25 minutes in a boiling water bath. Adjust times for higher altitudes (see attached link in the main body of post for a handy chart).
  5. *Processing* means you will put the jars in near-boiling water, making sure they are covered with 1-2 inches of water. Then bring to a boil and continue to boil with the lid on. I have a very large, heavy stock pot that I use instead of a canner. For pint-size jars, a heavy pasta pot with a strainer insert works really well, too. You do want the jars to sit on a rack of some sort and still be covered by water.
  6. To *raw pack*, fill the jars with raw fruit, cut side down, and add the hot syrup. Leave ½ inch headspace for both fruit and liquid. Raw packed peaches require an additional 5 minutes for processing. Process pints 25 minutes and quarts 30 minutes in a boiling water bath. Adjust times for higher altitudes.
  7. *Finishing Details:* After processing in a boiling water bath is complete, remove the canner from the heat and remove the lid. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars. This will equalize the temperature within the jar and reduce liquid loss (also known as siphoning) from the jar. Place the jars on a towel or rack. Allow jars to cool at least 12 hours; remove screw bands and check lid seals. Wash jars, label, and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Peaches are best if consumed within a year and are safe as long as the lids remain vacuum sealed.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen
Adjustments for altitude can be found here.

Small Batch Canned Peaches

Sources:  Penn State Extension and The National Center for Home Food Preservation

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  1. Beverley

    love the photos Ann and the recipe has been written so well, even I could follow this..Now all I need to do is grow some peach trees 🙂 Kidding aside thank you for another great recipe xoxo

    1. Ann

      Yes…do grow some peach trees. We will help you eat them! Seriously though, thanks for the lovely comment, Beverley!

  2. Julie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Awesome instructions. I’m going to try hot pack and raw pack, honey and sugar syrups to see which we like best.

    1. Ann Post author

      Air space at the top of the jars is absolutely fine, Keith. Just make sure the lids have sealed by gently pressing on them. The lids shouldn’t flex up and down in the center. If any of them do, store in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

  3. Bob

    Good Day, When canning if I place the peaches in the boiling syrup for recommended time and place the peaches in jars that have been boiling for 12 minutes and covered with boiling syrup do I still need to water bath for 20 minutes? Thank you

    1. Ann Post author

      Hello Bob, Food safety guidelines call for the water bath to safely seal the jars. My grandmother didn’t always do it this way, but I can’t safely recommend skipping the water bath. I hope that helps.

  4. Karin

    Great page. I’m an experienced canner (tomatoes/pickles/preserves) but had never tried peaches until today. Wondered why they floated! Wish I checked on-line before using my old Blue Book! Thanks for your resource!

    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you, Karin! I’m delighted you picked up a new tip and am sure you will enjoy those peaches all winter long!

  5. Carla Littewolf

    Just placed 2 quarts and 4 pints in my canner. I used the honey & water syrup. Now just to wait. Thanks for the helpful step by step instructions. Easy to follow.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Laura, As long as the seals on the jars look good, your peaches should be fine. I think the quality will be better if you don’t repack and reprocess. Just save this information for the next time! 🙂

  6. Debe

    Just used your peach canning receipe it was great and one of the least confusing methods out there thank you so much
    My question is why do I have so much liquid on the bottom
    Did I not put enough peaches in?
    I was afraid to really pack the peaches in there
    Thank you from a first timer❤️

    1. Ann Post author

      Great to read there was no confusion, Debe. As for the liquid, you probably could’ve put more peaches in the jar, but you can enjoy the peach-infused liquid as a tasty simple syrup!

  7. Diane

    So helpful. I had 4 softball size peaches, but one was bad had to pitch it. Still filled two pints. Used the honey and water, had a problem or two but my husband just came home in time to rescue me and the peaches. They are floating but, they sealed. Funny how you start remembering (Grandma) things about canning when you start doing it. Put the left over liquid in fridge. I remembered sometimes she water bathed and other times she didn’t. Wasn’t sure why. I will try other things but, when my husband is around to help. (and have the right equipment, lucky I did a baby batch) Thanks

    1. Ann Post author

      I’m so happy the instructions were helpfu, Diane. It sounds like you and your husband make a good team!

      1. Alexis Arthur

        Hi Ann,
        Everything went very well. It is a very easy recipe to follow. I had to go back and re-read a few steps, but I also just forgot why I went to the living room. I forgot to stir out the air from my first two jars…they sealed. I hope they are ok. We’ll have those 2 jars first if not. Second round of jars, I wondered if I had to get each jar, as I filled it, into the waterbath right away. I chose to put them in all together. Again, I hope it’s the right choice. I’m sure I won’t win any upcoming county fair canning prizes for best looking peaches, but they taste awesome, they’re mine and I’m very proud of them!
        Tomorrow John’s Dilly Beans with my son.

        1. Ann Post author

          Woo hoo! And you should be proud…well done! Everything should be fine as long as the jars sealed. Forgetting to stir shouldn’t pose a problem, and you were right to put the jars in the pot at the same time. That way they all process for the same amount of time. Enjoy them and let me know how the dilly beans go! 🙂

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Danie, I don’t use a pressure canner myself, but I did a little research and found the following information which should be helpful. I’m including the link for reference and if you’d like to read more regarding cooking at altitude, etc.

      Pressure Canning (Hot and Raw Pack Peaches)

      -Dial Gauge Canner: Vent pressure canner as directed in instructions. Process at 6 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canner procedure For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds of pressure.

      -Weighted Gauge Canner: Vent pressure canner as directed in instructions. Process at 5 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canner procedure For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds of pressure.

  8. Sylvia

    Thanks for the easy-to-follow directions for canning peaches! The local peaches have been so delicious this year, I wanted to save some. I canned five pints today in your light syrup recipe, then used some of the leftover syrup to sweeten some fresh-squeezed lemonade – so good!! I’m so happy to know we’ll have peaches for awhile longer. Since we have so much leftover syrup, I may make some more peachy-lemonade to freeze into Popsicles.

  9. Debby Lauber

    I just picked peaches 10 minutes ago and I don’t know if I should let them ripen up a bit or if I can start right away. They’re rock hard at the moment and you probably couldn’t just eat them. Thanks for the great recipe. I haven’t canned peaches before but have had some success with pears.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Debby, So great that you picked your own! When you can peaches, they should be at the stage you want to eat them–firm yet give just a little when pressed. It sounds like a few days on the counter will get them to that point.