How To Can Fresh Stone Fruits You Buy at the Store

It had never occurred to me that you could (or would want to) can fresh fruit that you buy at a store.  Growing up on a farm, we always grew fresh things ourselves, and canning was something you did with the "extras."  Unless produce was really affordable, it didn't pay to can it from the store.

This past week, however, my local Walmart had a huge stock of stone fruits for 50 cents a pound!  (You read that correctly!) I had to load up on some of the yummy fruits to take home, and it got me thinking about how I could use these types of sales in the future to stock my long-term pantry.

Canning stone fruits was new to me, so I turned to my trusted Ball Canning Book (shown below) and gave it a shot.

First, you'll want to use peaches or other fruit that is ripe, but not overripe.  A little squeeze should tell you if they are ready.  If they aren't, keep them at room temp until the day that they are.  Then, you'll want to be sure to WASH YOUR FRUIT before starting the process.  Don't wash until you are ready to use them, though.

Next, you'll want to assemble all your supplies in advance.  I used a giant boiling water canner, one sauce pan for the syrup, one large stock pot to loosen the peach skin, a big roasting pan for the ice bath, a bowl of lemon juice and water (to prevent browning), and several quart canning jars, lids, rings, tongs, and a washrag for wiping the jar rims.

The process was involved, but basically, it went like this:

1.  Place the whole peaches (with skin on) in boiling water for one minute.  Transfer to the cold water ice bath for 1 minute, or until cool.  Now, after slicing the peaces in half, the skins should peel right off, and the stone should be easy to pull out.

2.  Immediately put the peach halves (or slices, if you want smaller pieces) into a solution of 4 cups water to 1/4 cup lemon juice to prevent browning.  They can stay in here until you are ready to transfer to the hot syrup.

3.  I like light syrup, so I used a mixture of 6 cups hot water to 2 cups white sugar, boiled until dissolved and then turned to low.  The peaches then are warmed in this pot of syrup for 3-5 minutes.

4.  Transfer the peaches into hot canning jars (more info on proper canning methods can be found here), and cover with hot syrup until level with 1/2 in below the top of the canning jar.  Place your hot lids and rings on the jar, and process in the boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

You may find, like I did, that your peaches will float.  I've heard all kinds of reasons why this is.  Some will say it's because the peaches still had so much trapped air in them, and they could have sat in the hot syrup longer.  Others will claim that a lighter syrup encourages floating more than a heavy syrup.  I think I could have packed more peaches in, but I was intimidated by my first time canning them.  Some people have cheated by criss-crossing two cinnamon sticks at the top of the jar prior to canning to "hold" the peaches down.  I personally don't care what my jars look  like, as long as they are sealed properly and taste good.

Now, here's something you may not now about buying produce at Walmart:

On a recent trip to Bentonville, I had the opportunity to learn about some new policies that are making it easier for customers to buy only the best fruit at their local stores.  Any associate can throw fruit away that is unfit for sale (moldy, bruised, etc.).  If you see something, don't hesitate to tell ANY associate, and they'll deal with it (even the person working in the craft department.)  Also, they have a 100% freshness guaranteed policy, so if you buy your product and aren't happy, they will refund your money -- you don't even have to bring in the bad fruit!

I can't tell you how many times I've purchased fresh produce from a store and have been unhappy when I get home.  Either the it spoils before the expiration date, or it is horribly unripe, or it is moldy.  I sometimes have lost out on money because I can't get back to return the fruit.  Knowing that Walmart will make the refund simple really makes me more confident in buying from them.

Have you ever purchased fruit from a store to can?  What would make it worth it for you?

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I've received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.