My co-worker and friend Bridget wanted to take a stab at canning. So we decided to split a box of peaches ($20) from Better Be Ellerbe at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market. We made one small batch (ended up being 4 jars) of no-sugar peach jam and 36 half-pint jars of sliced peaches. There was also a small pile of about 10 peaches left over that we did not have enough jars/lids for so I sliced them and froze them (ended up being about a gallon-YAY for smoothies!)
There is no reason why you MUST use sugar when canning fruit, so unless you really like the way overly sugary taste of commercial jams and jellies, I suggest using as little as possible or (like we did) NONE at all.
For jam, use the “no sugar needed” version of pectin ($3) that you can buy in the canning aisle. We followed the “splenda” recipe, but did not add ANY sweetener. I have sometimes added up to 1/4 cup of sugar if the fruit it very tart, but taste it first and only add it if you think it needs it. This produced 4 half pint jars of peach jam.
So here is how we canned peach slices with NO sugar:
1. Sanitize jars in the dishwasher.
2. Set up a boiling station (just like for tomatoes) Cut an X in each peach and cut off any obvious bad spots. Boil each peach for 2-3 minutes and then place into cold water.
3. Peel the skin off of the peaches. Cut them in half and remove pits (do not eat the pits they contain cyanide!) If desired (what we did), slice the peaches.
4. Let the peaches hang out in some water with a splash of lemon juice (used about $0.50 worth) in it so that they don’t change color.
5. Also add a small amount of bottled lemon juice to each jar. For half pints 1/4 tsp is MORE than enough, if you are using pints use 1/2 tsp and use a whole tsp for quarts.
6. Pack as many peaches as you can fit into the mason jars leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch of head space. It helps to stand them up like little soldiers in the jar.
7. Use the juices that the peaches have been sitting it to fill the jars to 1/2 in from the top of the jar.
8. Use a moist paper towel to wipe the rims and then add lids and rings.
9. Using a water canner, boil each jar for 20 minutes and then remove and let cool. Make sure that each seal “pops”. If any do not pop, refrigerate and use immediately.
10. Label each jar with what it is and the date. Peaches will be good for 1 year (if they last that long!)
Price per jar of sliced peaches= LESS than $0.50 per half pint jar
Price per jar of no sugar added jam= ~$1.25 per half pint jar