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August Bounty: Peaches at $12.50 a Bushel?

August 21, 2021

Another Way for week of August 12, 2021

August Bounty: Peaches at $12.50 a Bushel?

What memories do home-canned peaches conjure up for you? Assuming you are, like me, of a certain age.

Store-bought canned peaches, in my book and family history, don’t count. Oh, they may taste OK in the dead of winter when you can’t get fresh peaches. And I do like canned store-bought peaches just fine served with a nice dollop of cottage cheese.

But store-bought canned peaches are nothing like their fresh sister, or home canned cousins.

So, I had not canned peaches in years. Decades even.

But there was a deal on local peaches that both my husband and I simply could not pass up. Two bushels of peaches for a total of $25. That’s a really good price, isn’t it? And they were huge and beautiful and lush with flavor even in this dry year. Or especially in our dry year in these parts. I was told that if peaches get too much rain, they lose flavor because they have more water in them. Correct me if that’s wrong—or if our deal wasn’t as good as some in your area. We have a plan to eat more peaches and less ice cream for dessert next winter. Sounds like a good plan in early August, eh?

Anyway, we were getting ready to go on a trip, again, to be with my Mom. So it was hurry hurry to get the peaches canned and some tomatoes canned.

Backing up, canning the peaches was almost fun because we do love peaches and my husband said he would help skin them. Low and behold we canned 28 quarts in two days, took care of a nephew overnight, packed, and tried to keep the pitifully dry garden half-way watered, and the bean beetles at bay.

I had to refresh my knowledge about how to can peaches, and I couldn’t call Mom. So I turned to Esther H. Shank’s fine, almost 700-page cookbook, Mennonite Country-Style Recipes and Kitchen Secrets. Shank lives here in the Shenandoah Valley and her book is renowned in these parts. It is full of information passed down from one generation to the next so that such info doesn’t get lost forever.

Shank has a whole section on canning, freezing, and preserving which is worth the price of the book, in my opinion. She reveals her own methods—such as telling us that if peaches are evenly ripened, you may find it easiest to blanche them (dip wire basket of your peaches in boiling water for 1 brief minute and then dunk in cold water immediately). Then drain and cut the peach in half to remove the seed. She says peelings should slip off easily but “if this method causes peaches to become ragged [or I might say too soft and not holding shape], peel thinly with knife instead.” She then lets it be known that her own favorite approach for peeling them is to just use a knife and forget the boiling and dunking. Saves a step. She also tells you, in a separate entry, not to can strawberries because they do not turn out well. Good to know.

My husband and I had a discussion and he recalled his mother using wide mouth jars for canned peaches. I have many more regular jar than wide mouthed, so I wanted to try the smaller openings. Meh… that didn’t go so hot so the next batch we switched to wide mouthed. And of course, putting the pitted side down in the jar. The end result of peach halves stacked upside down on each other is almost artistic, right?

Now I’ll leave this on the short side because I’m sure many readers also have things to can or freeze or harvest. Bon Appetit!

My own notes for future reference, using Esther Shanks instructions:

How much sugar to use to make syrup per quart for thin syrup:

1 1/2 cup sugar with 4 cups water

or: 3 cups sugar with 8 cups water

Making syrup: Bring water and sugar to boil. Pour over peaches in cans. Process 25 minutes by open water boil method (not pressure canner).

Also note: Each half bushel of peaches had approximately 50 Large peaches in it, about 200 peaches all together. Resulted in 28 canned quarts, and many others given away to friends or enjoyed fresh. The fresh peaches lasted over a week under refrigeration. The orchard dubbed them overripe.

I’d love to hear your peach canning memories/canning hints/disaster stories. Pile them on here!

Or share how much fresh peaches cost in your area of the world this year!

Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Neva and I have canned peaches for years. We did a bushel this year.

  2. The last time I preserved anything was freezing berries from a blueberry farm. I loved your peachy memories here and especially savored the line “But store-bought canned peaches are nothing like their fresh sister, or home canned cousins.” Brava for your 28 quarts!

    As you may guess, peach canning was a big thing when I was growing up. Mother bought several varieties, canned them, and hoped that the lids would pop, so she’d know the jars were sealed. Yummy! She was sad when she gave up her treasured canning jars, too much for her in her nineties.

    • My youngest daughter was super excited when she heard the news of our peach feats this year. It is certainly hard for folks to give up these traditions and taste treats as we/they age. I know Mom hated to give up her small garden patch at the retirement community and finally got down to one cherry tomato plant on her small patio, which she had up until this year. 😦 Such is life.

  3. Nancy Schaffer permalink

    My mom always canned a lot of fruit and vegetables. She did can strawberries once the freezer was too full for anymore- but your friend was right. They don’t come out so good- they get very mushy but we had an entire field of them.
    I’ve canned peaches several times recently and hope to this week as well. You got a very good price, I don’t anticipate such a good price around my parts. Also I can pints as it’s just for myself.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Wow, your mom did strawberries in canning? I can see making strawberries into freezer jam–that’s good. Good luck with your peaches, I’ll be anxious to see whether Stuart and I alone can eat a whole quart of peaches before they get old. Should be ok in the frig. Take care!

  5. Comment from Nick Russian by email:

    My mother canned hundreds of jars of fruit, vegetables, etc. every year, mostly in quarts but also in half gallons. All of her children helped. The child whose hand still fit into a small-mouth jar assisted with canning peaches and pears.


    My reply: Yes, yes, the “child whose hand still fit” got the job of putting the peaches and pears pit-side down into the jars. Thanks for the memory. I was the youngest daughter so that was me for a while. I’m not sure my younger brother ended up helping with much canning. 🙂 After three daughters, Daddy claimed him as soon as he could for farmwork.


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