How to Can Peaches (Without Sugar) - Modern Alternative Mama
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How to Can Peaches (Without Sugar)

admin August 3, 2012

Earlier this week, I got an email that I’d been waiting for.  A local farm has low-spray peaches that are now on sale for $10 per peck!  (A peck is 1/4 bushel, or around 12 lbs., in this case — and they usually go for $16/peck so this is pretty awesome.)

I don’t need a ton of peaches because I frankly still have several gallon-sized bags in my freezer from last year, and about 20 quarts canned (out of 50).  I didn’t peel the peaches last year before canning, which apparently I should have, because everyone is annoyed by the skins and as a result, didn’t really eat them.

Come to think of it, this wasn’t *my* problem.  Most of the peaches were canned by my husband and mother-in-law because I crazily went out and bought 7 pecks the night before going into labor with Jacob.  I kind of knew it would happen…and did it anyway.

I digress.

I’m canning about 12 quarts of peaches this year, peeled, to top off my supply.  The boys do love them, and can eat nearly a quart just between the two of them in a sitting.  Jacob grabbed a jar out of the pantry the other day and tried to carry it over to me because he really wanted some.  He turns 1 this weekend, already…

That’s just the beginning of my plan, though.  Oh, there is a lot more than that.  So much more.  I also got an email about the organic tomatoes and that going directly through the farm is going to save me about 30% per bushel (!!!).  It’s time to get canning!

My Preserving Plan

This is my third year canning, and I’m constantly adjusting what I choose to preserve.  But I’m getting better at gauging what we will really eat each year.  So this is what I plan to do over the next couple of months:

  • 12 quarts of sliced peaches (recipe below)
  • 80 – 90 quarts basic tomato sauce
  • 5 – 8 quarts marinara sauce (experiment this year)
  • 24 – 30 pints diced tomatoes
  • 24 – 30 pints tomato soup
  • 8 – 10 pints salsa (here’s my recipe)
  • 30 – 40 pints apple pie filling (the kids decided apple crisp for breakfast is awesome so I could see us eating this a couple times a week)
  • 20 – 3 quarts applesauce
  • 70 – 80 quarts diced pears

I might actually do more apples and pears than that, if I have the time and money. I also picked 35 lbs. of blueberries and they are all frozen right now.

You’ll notice I don’t really do jams, jellies, or other fruit preserves.  We just don’t eat them.  I might freeze green beans, green peppers, broccoli, and other veggies if I can get good prices on them.  I will definitely do this when I can have my own large garden.  I might also make apple fruit leather if I have enough apples, because the kids really like that and it is an easy on-the-go snack.

how to can peaches

How to Can Peaches (Without Sugar)

When I first looked up canned fruit recipes, I was shocked to see how much sugar is recommended in many places!  A “heavy” syrup had more sugar in it than water!  I could not imagine putting a cup of sugar in each jar with the fruit, or more, when I didn’t feel the fruit needed any additional sugar anyway.

More research led me to see that sugar does help preserve the color of the fruit, but it isn’t necessary for safety.  Therefore…sugar wasn’t needed.  I decided to find a better way.

This is the better way.

You will need about 2 – 3 lbs. of peaches per quart jar (4 – 6 medium).  Plus filtered water, honey, and lemon juice.

First, place your peaches, whole, on large baking sheets and freeze them.

peaches

Run these peaches under cool water.  They’ll peel themselves!  And you won’t burn yourself like you might if you blanched them.

Peeling peach

Slice them up and add them to your jars.

peaches in jars

To this, you will add 1 tsp. of lemon juice (to preserve color).  It’s safer than citric acid, which is derived from corn and may be GMO.

lemon juice

Now, mix up 7 c. water with 1/4 c. honey.  See, this isn’t very sweet.  But when it sits with the peaches, the juice actually will be delicious.  My kids beg to drink it.  Last year when I got lazy and ran out of honey, I didn’t even use it.

honey water

Fill each jar with this “syrup.”

jars filled

Add the lid (I’m using my Tattler reusable lids) and a ring.  Tighten gently, but don’t screw on as hard as it goes.  If you’re using Tattler lids, then you see how to do it — seal, then white lid, then ring.

lids

Place the jars into your canning pot, with a rack or something on the bottom to protect the jars.  I use a quilted hot pad for this purpose.  You can read more about my equipment in my equipment and water bath method posts.

jars in pot

Fill the pot up with cool water.  Turn it on high, or nearly high, and wait for it to reach a rolling boil.  Then set your timer for 20 minutes.

Other people say to get it to a rolling boil and then put your jars in.  I say, that’s a recipe to get burned.  Badly.  Which has happened to me before.  All that matters is that the jars get the full processing time when the pot is boiling.  So, jars in first, then turn it on, then start the timer when it is boiling.

When it’s done, turn the pot off and give it a couple minutes to settle down and stop the rolling boil.  Then use a jar lifter to remove your jars and set them aside.  Allow them to cool, and listen to their fun little “pops” as they seal!

And you’re done. 🙂  Easy!  And low-sugar.

Do you know how to can peaches?  Do you can anything?

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64 Comments

  1. How do you know that your solution is sugary enough or acidic enough to actually preserve with? I wish I knew more about chemistry (or that when I took chemistry they used real life examples like this!)

    Reply

    • Technically I don’t, but I got the idea for this from another blogger who’s done it for a few years, and I’ve done it for a couple years, and it’s been no problem. Pick Your Own also notes that sugar isn’t necessary for canning safety. So, from all these sources…I feel safe with this. 🙂

      Reply

    • You could always buy a pack of litmus paper if you are worried. You can wet litmus paper with your mixture and the color it turns tells you how acidic it is. But any fruit generally has enough sugar in it already to preserve (you have to add extra to jams/jellies/preserve to get it to gel). It is vegetables that you would have to worry about more (or pressure can).

      Reply

  2. The acid comes from the fruit itself (and the lemon juice helps too). Kate is right – sugar isn’t necessary for canning safety, it’s mainly for flavor and also color & texture retention.

    I have canned in a light honey syrup and also just in plain old water. I prefer the light honey syrup because the lemon juice does “tart” things up a bit, and so the peaches are not quite as sweet coming out as they were going in, so the honey in the syrup counteracts that.

    Another nice thing about canning this way is you can then use the canning juice like drinking juice or to add to smoothies without consuming a ton of extra sugar.

    Reply

  3. I don’t can nearly as much as I used to. I do make tons of fruit leather and dried fruits. I like making it from fruits I don’t have to cook and keep the skins when I blend them. Then I dehydrate it very low (115) so it keeps the enzymes intact. I feel better about my kids eating this then my canned fruit because it still has the skin and it is practically raw still. Recently I began chopping the fruit (plums and apricots) into small pieces and then dehydrating, it takes less time to dry and they are a nice size for my toddler to snack on and to throw into trail mix and hot cereal.
    I freeze a lot as well to ad to bread, crisps, smoothie etc. But my freezer always ends up too full so I dehydrate as much as I can. I have even added kale and zucchini to my fruit leathers to lower the sugar content. I do a lot of gleaning so I rarely pay for the fruit and veggies I preserve! I just ask people if they will be picking all their fruit. I have also picked up pears from the ground that the orchard can’t sell.
    But we can’t resit a few cans of peaches, they are so yummy! Thanks for this method of canning without white sugar! Excited to try it!

    Reply

  4. Does your peach preserving method work for other fruits? Its so easy!

    Reply

  5. Love this recipe! going to try and make a couple of cans this year and see how they turn out. Wondering what Jeannette is asking as well. Does this method work for other fruits as well?

    Reply

  6. Do you have a recipe for tomato soup? Thanks.

    Reply

    • Not officially. I’ve tried a couple but haven’t gotten it quite how I want it yet. Once I do I will share!

      Reply

  7. About tomatoes, I found this recipe (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jersey-fresh-tomato-soup/detail.aspx) for tomato soup and canned some up this week. I used celery seed instead of celery salt and chose to leave basil out and add fresh basil when serving. I also doubled the amount of stock (and maybe let it reduce more). If you blend it you don’t really have to worry about peeling. There may be some small pieces of peel left in the end, but it didn’t bother me at all.

    To can it, leave out the butter/flour/milk, and you will need to do this when serving. Before canning, just follow directions minus this bit. I tried it yesterday, and no problem. You won’t have to cook for the hour afterwards as the flour thickens pretty quickly. I pressure canned at 10 lbs for 70 minutes.

    Always thought I hated tomato soup, but I love this (and so does hubby)!

    Reply

    • I bet you could do something similar without the stock and use a regular water bath canning process, and add some stock when serving. I will probably do this!

      Reply

  8. I really wish I could find a bunch of used jars! I look at you big numbers and think – WOW, that’s a lot of jars. I only have 3 found jars and I have bought 4 dozen different sizes.
    I also have yet to find a local farm with these kind of deals 🙁

    Reply

    • I know how you feel! Really. Just remember…baby steps! Do what you can and don’t stress! I am only really getting into preserving this year, and mostly just freezing. I feel like a wimp compared to Kate and everyone who does so much! But I just remember…baby steps! 🙂

      Reply

  9. I would love to know your recipe for apple pie filling!

    Reply

  10. I have the USDA canning guide in front of me and it says in the section about canning fruit, under ‘General’:

    “Adding syrup to canned fruit helps to retain its flavor, color and shape. It does not prevent spoilage of these foods.”

    There is also a section on ‘Canned Foods for Special Diets,’ subheading ‘Canning without Sugar’:

    “In canning regular fruits without sugar, it is very important to select fully ripe but firm fruits of the best quality. Prepare these as described for hot-packs in Guide 2, but use water or regular unsweetened fruit juices instead of sugar syrup.”

    With this in mind, I don’t see why honey as an alternative isn’t an option. It seems logical.

    Here is a link to the USDA guide to canning:

    Reply

  11. I have the same question as above – could you use this to can pears?

    And… I’d like the little extra sweet, but am allergic to honey – do you think I could safely do it with maple syrup instead? (It’s usually my go-to honey replacer, but I do know it’s not as antibacterial as honey and is not shelf-stable when opened)

    Reply

  12. Kate, love this post. I’m doing my first batch of canning today, salsa. I was wondering what your measurements were on your applesauce. I do a crock pot applesauce and then freeze it, but I would prefer to can it to save freezer space. Thanks, oh and I might be canning some peaches now too. 🙂

    Reply

    • I just sliced up the apples, cored and peeled (we have a machine that does all at once) and cook them down. About 3 lbs. per jar. I don’t add anything else to them, except a bit of lemon juice (maybe 1 lemon to a full 8-qt. pot — full before cooking down). The 8-qt. pot, once cooked down, will make 4 – 5 quarts of sauce.

      Reply

  13. When I do peaches, I just peel them, cut up into jars and add barely 1/8 cup sugar and then fill with reg. water and can in hot water bath. They never turn brown. You can save the lemon juice step as it isn’t really necessary and saves money. They are yummy.
    Where did you get the peaches? We lost most of ours in the June storm so just have enough for fresh. Nice post.

    Reply

  14. For applesauce all you need to do is cut them up, core them, cook them in a bit of water to keep from sticking and put through a squeezo strainer. Don’t add any sugar and it’s still great. Can as usual. Have never used lemon juice and it’s fine. Can skip the lemon juice if desired to save the money.

    Reply

  15. Kate,
    Do you have a recipe for your tomato sauce? I will be canning tomatoes soon and haven’t found one I like yet…
    But I am so glad you shared your peaches recipe….using that one this weekend and putting up strawberry jam too…thanks so much!

    Reply

  16. […] How To Can Peaches Without Sugar : Modern Alternative Mama Tagged: […]

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  17. When you freeze the peaches are you freezing them solid? If not, how long?? An hour? Two hours? Thanks! I’ve got peaches in sun finishing their ripening. Which orchard did you find the low spray peaches at? Was it in Amish country?

    Reply

    • I tend to stick them in the freezer until I have time to get to them — it might be days, lol. It’s fine to freeze them solid. I bought at Lynd’s, which is in Columbus.

      Reply

  18. Neat idea, I hadn’t heard about this method before. I canned peaches and pears last year, and just used pineapple or orange juice for the syrup (both kinds work well). They turned out well and no added sugar. I will have to try your method sometime, that sounds even better. 🙂

    Reply

  19. How does the fruit look a year or two later after being canned?
    Last year I did some peaches with honey (peaches are acidic enough that they don’t *really* need the lemon juice), and they discolored a lot more than the sugar syrup ones (I do a light syrup though, about 2-3 cups of sugar to 6+ cups of water? I just start dumping things in after checking my amounts in the morning (after 60-some quarts I’m literally just dumping stuff together).

    Reply

    • Some of mine look just as good as they did when we canned them. Some are a little brown. They all taste fine though. 🙂

      Reply

  20. I must have done something wrong with the freezing part because I have 25 pounds of peach mush): So disappointed! I froze them and peeled them but they were too frozen to slice so I let them thaw for a few minutes and they turned to mush when I sliced them. They were perfectly firm peaches when I started. I could cry!

    Reply

  21. I read somewhere that if they are organic (tomatoes too) you don’t need the citric acid as there is enough acid in them.

    Reply

  22. To make things easier, you can leave the peels on and forget the freezing/blanching and peeling stages! Peels are just a preference thing. There’s no safety issue with peach skins. =)

    Also, If you plan to give your peaches to your infant, you may wan to avoid using honey because of the potential of botulism. Or you can use honey and pressure can the peaches. As I understand it, water-bath canning does not produce a high enough heat to kill potential botulism spores that may be present. (Same thing with baking, cooking, etc.) Even pasteurized honey can still have issues.

    Reply

  23. […] How to Can Peaches Without Sugar by Modern Alternative Mama […]

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  24. Congratulations – you’ve got one of this week’s featured posts: http://www.commonsensehome.com/common-mallow/

    🙂

    Thanks for linking up to Wildcrafting Wednesday!

    Reply

  25. […] the freezer and jars.  This was my first attempt at canned peaches!  I used the guidelines from this site and found them to be extremely helpful….I think I am falling in love with that site all over […]

    Reply

  26. So how many quarts does the 7 cups of water and 1/4 cup honey fill?

    Reply

  27. Nicole, I made up 11c. of syrup and it filled 7 jars with a bit left over. That was with halves though, not slices.

    Reply

  28. I made 15 qrts yesterday this way. The frozen ones would not come off the pit without turning into complete mush! Thankfully I didn’t freeze all 40 pds. I am looking at my jars today and the peaches are floating in every jar except one. I am just wondering if this is ok for 1. them to be floating and 2. the jar with the peaches that are NOT floating? I have canned in the past and never hear a “pop” but they are sealed (I can’t get the lid off by hand). I am new to canning- only did applesauce last year so I am hoping I am not messing anything up!

    Reply

    • It is okay if they float, or if they don’t. It just means some air was trapped in the jar, or not (it’s common though with cold-packing to have air trapped). It does leave it slightly mushier if you freeze them but we still like them!

      Reply

  29. Hi .. just read your way of making canned Peaches ,…I love it … I hope you will add me on FB
    and i can get more of your ideas about canning .. just started to do it agian this week making canned peper for my hubby using apple Cidar vinegar verses white distilled .. I do a half/half of each vinegar ..

    Peaches .. I love them Skins included I feel they ahve the most ot offer in nutrition and I love the crunch of he skin ..

    what more can i do with the skins of fruit ??

    Honey Crisp apples are next .. my favorite apples in the world ..

    Reply

  30. […] They can be eaten fresh (my favorite!), made into peach tea, ginger-peach crisp, peach jelly, peach upside-down cake, or peach ice cream!  They can also be frozen in slices, or canned (without sugar)! […]

    Reply

  31. What about strawberries, would this work for those?

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  32. I don’t know I was think they might me good preserved for toast or just for the girls to eat as a snack. Instead if processed snacks. Also strawberrys are my girls favorite fruit (fresh if course. Still though I was trying to figure out a way to have them in winter, since they are a highly sprayed crop. I found some organic an hour away and this might be the last week they have them. I never put them up even frozen. Everyone I know puts in white sugar and freezes them.

    Reply

  33. I quick freeze my strawberry on a cookie sheet in the deep freeze then bag them and store in the freezer. Slightly thaw before eating as a cool snack or use in recipes. I do not use any sugar when freezing.

    Reply

  34. I loved freezing the peaches to remove the skins – it worked amazingly and they were peeled so quickly. It did make my fingers really cold, however. The problem I ran into was the peaches becoming a mushy mess as I was trying to cut them and get them into the jars as they were thawing. Many of the jars will definitely have to be used for peach cobbler or something that doesn’t warrant the fruit actually looking like slices of peaches. Do you have any suggestions on how to remedy this? Your peaches look amazing, and mine look like a mushy mess for the most part. Thanks!

    Reply

    • How long did you freeze them for? I think I would only get out the peaches that you are currently working on for 1 water bath canner load at a time to try to avoid them melting away. Hoping to attempt this next week for the first time! 🙂

      Reply

  35. I am wondering. A little confused. Is the 7 cups of water and 1/4cup honey only for one jar?

    Reply

  36. My advise is to buy a Ball canning and preserving book at your local hardware store or contact your local Home Extension Service. Canning is very fulfilling, but can be very dangerous if not done correctly. I have canned for 50 years and no one has ever gotten sick. You can get food poisoning very easily if you don’t know what you are doing. Sterlize EVERYTHING, and follow the proper procedure for canning.

    Reply

  37. Hi:
    Came across this site looking for a recipe for low sugar syrup for peaches.Haven’t canned in awhile because the fruit was terrible. This season it is sooooo good that I thought I would put some up again. Just read thru the comments. Lots of nice info. has anyone tried a STEAM CANNER? I have been using one for 30+ years with GREAT results. So much concern about burning with BWB. Steam Canning is a lot cheaper safer and much quicker than BWB. Developed by IOWA Home Ec dept. I started doing it because I have fibromyalgia, and I couldn’t begin to put up the number of quarts of food in the list above. I no longer do that amount, like I did when my kids were small, but was so glad to discover that method. The canners are available on HOMe Basics web site, as well as Amazon. Method is easy, uses a lot less energy–both electric/gas and mine, and saves a HUGE amount of time as well. Happy canning all

    Reply

  38. How long do you keep them in the freezer? Do you thaw them before cutting? Thanks!

    Reply

  39. my husband is diabetic and his favourite treat is canned peaches and pears, I avoid honey and use unsweetened fruit juice at a ratio of 1 litre of juice to 5 of water – I use pineapple or orange juice – apple works too but he like the other – to the pears I add a quarter slice of fresh lemon – it just looks nicer and gives a nice taste. I would like to see any recipes for jelly and jams – sugar free

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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