The beginning of winter is a great time to preserve peaches. You’re probably not going to find them in the shops through the colder months, so if you want an alternative to the canned variety on the supermarket shelves it’s time to get preserving!
What You’ll Need
To preserve peaches you’ll need:
- 4 kg of ripe but firm peaches
- 100 ml lemon juice
- 2 ½ cups of white sugar
- Mason jars
Perhaps the most important aspect of preserving peaches is hygiene. All utensils, jars and lids must be thoroughly sterilised to prevent the growth of bacteria while the fruit is in the jar. Sterilisation is most easily performed in the home by boiling utensils for 10 minutes.
- Make a sugar syrup by gently heating 1.25 litre of water and 2 ½ cups of sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Keep the syrup at a low simmer.
- Remove the skins from your peaches by placing the peaches a couple at a time in a large saucepan of boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds, or until the skins start to wrinkle.
- Remove the peaches from the boiling water and drop them into a large bowl of ice water. Allow the peaches to cool, then remove them from the ice water and peel off the skins.
- Work on one peach at a time and, after peeling, quarter the fruit and remove the stone.
- Place peach quarters in a solution of 2 litres of water and 100 ml lemon juice as you go. This will prevent the fruit from becoming discoloured while you’re working on the other peaches.
- When peeling and quartering is complete you can begin placing the peaches and syrup in your sterilised mason jars. When doing this you want to avoid bruising or breaking the fruit and you also want to ensure that no air becomes trapped in the preserving jar. The best way to fill your mason jars is to use a sterilised spoon to place peach quarters into the jar until it is a third full, then add hot syrup until the peaches are just covered and to then shake and tap the jar gently to dislodge any air pockets. Repeat this process until each jar is filled to within half an inch of its rim.
- Top up each jar with syrup so that only a quarter of an inch is left at the top – you want all the peaches to be completely covered with syrup.
- Wipe the rims of your jars with a clean, damp paper towel to remove any juice or syrup.
- Place sterilised lids on the jars. Lids should not be over-tightened – finger-tight is just right.
- Your preserved peaches now need to be heat processed to kill any bacteria that might have made its way into the jars. Do this by standing the jars upright in a large container of water and boiling for half an hour. The water should completely cover the jars.
- Remove the jars and allow to cool undisturbed for a day before storing in a cool dark place.
Summer Fruit in Winter
By learning how to preserve peaches you’ll have a stock of delicious summer fruit on hand at any time of the year. It won’t matter that the supermarket is bare of peaches in winter – all you’ll have to do is reach into the kitchen cupboard! Peach crumble, anyone?
To see another way of preserving peaches check out this video.