Sterilize Jars: Make sure the jars and rings are clean and sterile (I sterilize them in the dishwasher an hour before starting). Make sure you have new, un-used lids, for a proper seal.
Fill water bath canner: add enough water to cover the jars by 1-2 inches once they are immersed in the water. Place on the stove and bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Peel Peaches: Fill a separate large pot of water and bring to a high simmer. Add the peaches to the hot water (in batches, if needed), for about 30 seconds. This will help loosen the skins, making them really easy to peel. Remove peaches to an ice water bath, then peel them. The skin should come off really easily. Remove the pit, and cut them into large slices.
Fill jars with peaches as you slice them. You can fill them pretty full, and gently tap the bottle on the counter top to help them settle inside.
Add Simple Syrup: For light syrup, mix 2 cups of sugar with 6 cups of very hot water. (See syrup chart in the post, for variations). Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour some of the simple syrup into each jar, leaving 1/2'' headspace at the top. Gently tap the jars to release any air bubbles.
Wipe the sides and rims of the jars with a clean rag. Place a clean lid securely on top of each of the jars. Secure with the rings.
Process in Waterbath: Use jar lifters or tongs to gently place the jars in your hot water bath (or use the rack to lower them down, if it comes with one). Add more water to the canner, if needed, to cover the tops of the jars. Cover with the lid and bring water back to a boil. Once boiling, process the jars for 25 minutes.
Remove and Rest: Place a large towel or dishrag on your countertop. After the 25 minutes is up, turn the burner off (if you have an electric flat top stove, gently move the pot off the burner) remove the lid and allow the jars to rest in the pot for 5 minutes. Then use tongs or jar lifters to move the jars onto the towel to rest.
Check Seals: After a few hours you can check the seals to make sure they all sealed properly before you store them. When you press on the center of the lid it should be sealed down. If you hear or feel it pop back at all, then it didn't seal properly. Also make sure there is still liquid covering the peaches and that the peaches look like a nice bright color. If they didn't seal properly you can refrigerate them and enjoy within a few days, or reprocess in the water bath.
Store: Allow the jars to cool completely before storing them in a cool, dry place for 12-18 months (at best quality--they are often safe eating even longer after that).
If your peaches start to develop a foul odor, become discolored, or if you see signs of mold, these are signs of spoilage and you should discard them.
High Altitude: 3,000-6,000 ft process for 30 min. Above 6,000 ft process for 35 minutes.Variations:
Hot pack canning: To use the hot pack method, in step 7 of the recipe card, use a large pot to heat the 6 cups of water and slowly stir in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn to a simmer and add the sliced peaces. Simmer the peaches for about 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to fill the jars with the hot peaches. Fill with hot syrup and process for 30 minutes (Add an additional 5-10 minutes for high altitude).
No water bath canner? If you don't have a water bath canner, check out this resource for canning peaches with a regular stock pot.
Freeze peaches: another great option for preserving fresh peaches is to freeze them. Peel and cut peaches and store them in a freezer safe bag or container for 5-6 months. Use them to make peach frozen yogurt, or in smoothies.
Add cinnamon: for a yummy cinnamon flavor, place one cinnamon stick in the bottom of each jar before adding the peaches.
Add vanilla: for a yummy vanilla flavor, add a vanilla bean pod (slit and seeds removed), to the simple syrup when you heat it. Remove it before pouring liquid on peaches.
Substitute sugar for honey or juice: see graphic above for ratios to use when substituting honey or juice in this recipe.