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How would you go about canning peach puree?

All this talk about marmalade has me thinking:

How could I can my own white peach puree while they're in season?

My thought is to wait until they get good and cheap, and follow a basic recipe to make peach puree with just fruit and sugar in it.

From here, I'm lost. Could I just pour hot puree into a canning jar, boil as I would for jam, let them cool, and put them away for winter?

I would love to have peach puree to use throughout the year for bellinis, but Perfect Puree from Napa is too expensive to order from Amazon. My local wine store has a French product that's readily available, but $7 for a small pack of just okay puree.

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  1. Be sure to use an antioxidant such as Fruit Fresh or ascorbic acid (vitamin C)in your puree to minimize browning. I am pretty sure that the hot pack canning method where you fill sterilized jars, seal and process in a water bath would work. However, the flavor will be altered. Seriously consider freezing the puree rather than canning if possible. For freezing the puree would not need to be cooked.

    I have made peach preserves using both the cooked and freezer jam methods. The peaches are mashed pretty thoroughly but not pureed. The essence of peach comes through in the freezer jam vastly more than in the cooked variety.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Eldon Kreider

      Do you have a fav. peach (or other) freezer jam recipe?

      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        That sounds amazing! Thanks for the suggestion. It sounds much easier than canning as well. Would you share your process? Do you peel the peaches, etc?

        1. re: Pei

          For freezer jam I use the recipes that come with Ball or Certo liquid pectin, which I prefer to powdered pectin for freezer jam only. There may be slight but important differences in ratios of fruit, sugar and pectin for the two brands. Follow instructions exactly. With quite ripe Michigan Red Haven peaches from my local farmers' market I find that adding a teaspoon of citric acid per batch helps gelling because these peaches are sweeter with less acid than what is assumed by the pectin manufacturers.

          Quick and dirty instructions for freezing peaches. Scald fruit for about a minute, drop into cold water and then the peels should slip right off. This is the same process often used for peeling tomatoes. Keep the peaches under water with a little Fruit Fresh or ascorbic acid added until they are pureed. Fruit Fresh is a lot easier to use than trying to crush vitamin C tablets as I recall my mother doing in the 1940s. Oxygen is your enemy when working with peaches as browning is due to an oxidation reaction. With freestone peaches I halve and then twist halves off the pits. Then I slice the peaches before mashing. At this I point I drain the peaches and place in bowl for mashing along with a sprinkling of Fruit Fresh. I have a heavy D-handled potato masher, which is great for crushing fruit for jams. The rest just follows the directions in the box insert.

          To puree for freezing, I would use a food mill instead of the masher. The food mill won't whip a lot of air into the puree the way a blender or food processor does. Stir in sugar to taste and freeze. Adding a little Fruit Fresh to the puree will help retard browning. Note that lemon juice is often used to combat browning, but I find that using enough to do the job affects the flavor.

      2. You have to freeze your puree. By mixing fruit puree with sugar syrup and boiling to seal the jars does not make it shelf stable. The flavor of your puree will deteriorate in no time and there is a chance of getting food poisoning. That is the reason Perfect Puree comes to you frozen.

        1. Their being white peaches is a potential problem. "White" fruits are generally much lower in acid than their un-white originators. More than having an absolute higher sugar content, it's the lower acidity that makes them taste sweeter (and to me generally less flavorful, ironically, though a nice change once in a while for the sweetness). Unless you can find a reasonably authoritative reference (ie, Ball Book, USDA or ag extension office site), I'd be wary of canning them at all and stick with freezing.

          PBSF is correct to an extent. you can't use the same minimal 5 minute processing time that you use for jams and jellies - you'd need to use the times for whole fruit which is usually around 20 minutes for pints and 25-30 minutes for quarts. But you can certainly water-process fruit without sugar as long as the acid content is high enough to keep them in the "high acid" category (which I believe is considered 4.6 pH or lower.) I've never heard or a "regular" fruit that's not high-acid, but rather than take the potential risk of botulism, I definitely urge you to clarify the "white" fruit issue.

          1. Pei, I'd suggest reading the canning section of The Joy of Cooking. My edition, from the early 1970s, has very detailed information about canning fruits and vegetables. I read it almost every time I'm thinking of canning anything.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kagey

              I would be extremely wary about using any canning directions more than ten years old as safety standards have changed.

              In a thread about canning tomatoes (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...) Candy noted that the Ball Blue Book was reissued in April, 2006, under the name Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving with a price of about 12.95. I haven't seen the latest version but highly recommend it based on experience with several earlier versions.

            2. The vibrancy of white peaches is quickly lost in the canning process. This is why better quality purees are frozen and why uncooked "freezer jam" has much better flavor than cooked for some fruits. Freeze your puree with a little fruit fresh and enjoy.

              If you must can your peaches, consider packing them in a light syrup as a dessert rather than a puree.

              1. I process a bushel or so peaches every summer if I'm lucky, and totally agree with freezing instead of canning, unless you are making traditional jam. Frozen peaches really retain that fresh edge that is lost in the canning heat.

                Besides, it is way easier to do and doesn't heat up the kitchen.

                As I just noted in another thread, your county extension office will have free up-to-date canning instructions available, since they do change with new food safety standards.