Home canned peach pie filling on the pantry shelf is like having a homemade dessert ready at a moment’s notice. It works wonderfully to top a cheesecake or coffee cake, and it’s perfect for whipping together a homemade pie in minutes.
Every year I put up a big batch of canned peaches, and in the winter time I pull them out for cobblers and pies. The trick is, when you’re canning peaches in syrup, some of the peach flavors leaves the peaches to flavor the syrup. For peach pie filling, every drop in that jar will land in a pie, so every last bit of peachy flavor is preserved.
Unlike canned peaches in syrup where you can tweak the recipe as much as you like, home canned peach pie filling cant deviate from the safe approved recipe. If you adjust the amount of sugar or skip the lemon juice it may not jel properly or it may not be acidic enough for safe canning.
You can’t just put up any old peach pie filling recipe. Flour turns to paste in a canner, and regular cornstarch won’t work either. There is a special thickener called clear jel that was developed for canning pie fillings. It stays liquid while it’s hot, allowing you to fill the jars quickly without air bubbles. After canning, the jars set firmly and are preserved until needed.
This recipe comes from the national center for food preservation, which has tested canning recipes using clear jel. The only things that are optional are the seasoning. Feel free to skip the cinnamon or almond extract, or add in your own blend of seasonings like ginger or nutmeg.
I’ve found another older tested recipe for canned peach pie filling in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. That recipe was developed before clear jel was invented, and it’s also laboratory tested for safety. It uses the pectin in apples and lemon juice to naturally thicken the peach pie filling without cornstarch or flour.
Be careful what type of clear jel you get because the “instant” type thickens as soon as it hits a hot liquid, which won’t work for canning. Be sure to buy the cook type clear jel. The nice thing is, clear jel can be re-heated multiple times and it will continue to liquify once heated and set when cooled. Once you re-heat the pie filling while baking a pie, the gel loosens, it turns liquid again and then will set again once it cools.
Since clear jel thickens as it cools, it’s more important than ever to pack the jars very hot for canning. I had a bit of the extra gel left in the pot after I’d finished filling my canning jars, and within minutes of turning off the heat it had already setup completely. A little hot water washes it off completely for cleanup, but during the canning process, the pie filling needs to flow freely to completely fill the jars.
Canning peach pie filling is ever so slightly more complicated than canning peach slices because you need to first cook the peaches and then remove them from the pot to make the gel. The peaches go back into the pot once the gel is prepared and the completed pie filling is packed into jars.
Raw peaches are full of air bubbles that will come out during the canning process. That’s why it’s important to cook the peaches before they go into the canner. The gel itself cant be cooked that long, so the peaches need to be cooked separately and then kept warm until they can go back into the pie filling.
Once the peaches are cooked, the pot is drained of cooking liquid. At this point, the instructions tell you to add all the filling ingredients except the peaches into the pot and then add in a measured amount of cold water. To me, it seems like a shame to waste all that peach cooking water, since so much of the peach flavor has gone into the water. When you make peach jelly, all you do is boil peaches in water for a few minutes and the peach flavor leaches into the water for the jelly.
Instead of adding cold water, I added back in a measured amount of the peach cooking liquid. My worry here was that it’d cause the clear jel to clump or not setup properly, but I didn’t have any issues. I used a large balloon whisk to incorporate the clear jel and sugar into the hot peach water and I didn’t have any lumps.
At this point you need to cook the clear jel until it’s boiling and starts to thicken. The original recipe says that this will happen quickly, but it took about 20 minutes for the whole mixture to come to a boil even though I used hot peach liquid instead of cold water.
Once the mixture begins to thicken, ladel it into prepared canning jars. Quarts or pints both work fine, but I’d suggest wide mouth to get everything in there and make sure you can get the finished pie filling out for use. Since it’s a slightly thick mixture, it takes a bit of extra effort to remove air bubbles. Be sure to leave a 1 inch headspace.
At this point, the peach pie filling gel will still look white, and I was a bit concerned that it’d stay that way. Once the canning process was finished, the gel turned clear. Fear not, even if it’s a bit unattractive before it goes into the canner, it’ll be a beautifully canned peach pie filling when it comes out.
Peach Pie Filling for Canning
Homemade peach pie filling recipe for canning. Just pop the jar open and fill your favorite pie crust, or use it to top a cheesecake.
- 6 quarts peaches, sliced and peeled
- 7 cups sugar
- 2 1/4 cups clear jel cook type, not instant
- 5 1/4 cups peach cooking liquid or water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 3/4 cups lemon juice
- water for cooking peaches
Prepare a water bath canner and 7 one quart wide mouth jars.
In a separate large saucepan, add about 2-3 quarts of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the peach slices and allow the water to return to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes and then strain, reserving the liquid. Remove the peaches to a separate bowl and cover to keep warm.
Empty the water completely from the cooking pot, reserving 5 1/4 cups of peach cooking liquid.
Add the sugar and clear jel back into the pot. Measure 5 1/4 cups of peach cooking liquid and add it to the pot. Mix the liquid into the clear jel and sugar, using a whisk to fully incorporate and remove any lumps.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and then add in cinnamon and almond extract (if using) and all the lemon juice. Do not skip the lemon juice, it is required for safe canning.
Return the mixture to a boil and then add in hot peach slices.
Once the mixture begins to simmer again, ladle into prepared canning jars. Be sure to remove air bubbles and leave 1 inch of headspace.
Process jars (both pints and quarts) for 30 minutes in a water bath canner if under 1,000 feet in elevation. Adjust cook time to elevation.
Remove jars from the canner and allow to cool completely before checking seals. Store sealed jars at room temperature and use within 1 year. Store any unsealed jars in the fridge and use within 1 week.
How to Use Peach Pie Filling
Now that you’ve canned peach pie filling, what can you do with it? Pie is the obvious answer, but there’s plenty of other ways to use peach pie filling. I asked some of my food blogger friends to share their best recipes, aren’t they beautiful!?!
No Bake Peach Icebox Cake from Beyond Frosting
Peach Layer Cake from Liv For Cake
Peaches and Cream Monkey Bread from Pint Sized Baker
Peach Blueberry Pie from Smells Like Home
More Ways to Use Peach Pie Filling
If that’s not inspiring enough, here’s a few more ideas….
- Peaches and Cream Bars
- Peach Hand Pies
- Simple Fruit Crisp
- Easy Peach Crumble Cobbler
- Simple Peach Cobbler
- Southern Peach Cobbler
- No Bake Peach Yum Yum
- Instant Pot Peach Crisp (skip the peach prep phase and just use the canned filling)
- Paleo Peach Crisp …it’s not exactly paleo with the sugar in the pie filling, but at least the topping is grain free