How to Make Homemade Peach, Nectarine, Plum, Pluot or Apricot Juice

Making and canning your own peach, nectarine, plum, pluot or apricot juice is easy.  Here's how to make your own home canned fruit juice (some call it fruit cider, but it isn't fermented, so I don't think that really applies), complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The peach, nectarine, plum, pluot or apricot juice will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store, and by selecting the right peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots, it will be so naturally-sweet that you won't need to add any sugar at all.

Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention.

 

Directions for Making Peach, Nectarine, Plum, Pluot or Apricot Juice

Ingredients

Equipment

 

Recipe and Directions

Step 1 - Selecting the peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots

The most important step!  You need peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots that are sweet - that will eliminate the need to add any sugar. You can choose the best peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots you can get and make far better peach, nectarine, plum, pluot or apricot juice.  Don't get me wrong, it is fine to use "seconds", as long as you cut out the bruised spots!

You need fruit that are sweet, and to make the work easier, for peaches, choose cling-free (also called freestone).  This means that the peach separates easily from the pit!  Same with nectarines, and this doesn't apply to cherries or plums. Don't miss the peach picking tips page!

Choose ripe, mature fruit of ideal quality for eating fresh or cooking. They should not be mushy, but they also should not be rock hard: just as ripe as you would eat them fresh.

Step 2 - How many peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots and where to get them

You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store.  But for large quantities, you'll find that real* farmer's markets, like the Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices.  In 2012 , they were available from late September at $14 to $30 per bushel. 2013 prices, thanks to abundant rainfall, are likely to be good at the real farmer's markets, like the Atlanta-Forest park Georgia State Farmer's Market and orchards in the southeast of the U.S.

You'll get about 12 to 20 quarts of peach, nectarine, plum, pluot or apricot juice per bushel of peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots.  Count on 15 or 16  quarts per bushel.

* - not the cutesy, fake farmer's markets that are just warehouse grocery stores that call themselves farmer's markets.

Canning jars in the dishwasherStep 3 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used. Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot peach, nectarine, plum, pluot or apricot juice.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Step 4 -Wash and chop the peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots!

I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots in plain cold water.

Chopping them is usually pretty easy, just run a sharp knife around them, down to the pit or stone, and pull the halves apart. Unless they are very hard and unripe, you should need to cut them up further.

Step 5 - Cook the Peach, Nectarine, Plum, Pluot or Apricots

Pretty simple put about 4 inches of water (I used filtered tap water) on the bottom of a huge, thick-bottomed pot. Put the lid on, and the heat on high.  When it gets really going, turn it to medium high until the peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots are soft through and through.

Hardware stores sell a fruit steamer.  I haven't used one yet, but I hear they work well.

NOTE: If you have a electric juicer, you can simply juice the chopped peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots, then skip to step 7 to heat the juice to boiling.

Step 6 - Sieve the cooked peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots

Now you want to separate the liquid from the pulp, skins, seeds, stems, etc.  There are quite a variety of ways to filter the peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots or apricots. 

Unfiltered juice:

Filtered juice:

Note: One of the easiest ways to extract juice is by using a steam juicer available at many hardware and variety stores. If you plan on making a lot of juice or doing this every year, it may be worth buying one. This unique piece of equipment allows you to conveniently extract juice by steaming the fruit which is held in a retaining basket. The juice drops into a reservoir which has a tube outlet for removal. Follow manufacturer's instructions for using steam juicer. See the steam juicers at the right side of this page. All of them get very positive reviews (4 out of 5 stars) from owners on Amazon)

Step 7 - Heat the fruit juice

Put the fruit juice into a large pot. If you want, add cinnamon to taste.  You should not need to add any sugar.  

The fruit juice does not need any further cooking; just get it heated to a low simmering boil and keep it hot until you get enough made to fill the jars you will put into the canner (Canners hold seven jars at once, whether they are quart or pint size)

Step 8 - Fill the jars and process them in the water bath

Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled fruit juice of the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.  Put them in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 or 2 inches of water and boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint  or quart jars for 15 minutes and half gallon jars for 20 min. This assumes you kept the juice hot until you filled the jars. If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart below

 

Recommended process time for Peach, Nectarine, Plum, Pluot or Apricot Juice in a boiling-water canner.

  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints or Quarts 15 min 20 25
Half-Gallons 20 min 25 30

Step 9 - Remove and cool the jars - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

 


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Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid - disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel - to fill the jars
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This is the same type of  standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids! To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!For more information and current pricing:

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Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?  Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes?  Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!

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