Peaches are abundant and cheap at the end of the summer, and they can exceptionally well. I have always loved to can peaches because they bring a taste of summer in the dead of winter. This recipe is excellent, and it will get you lots of admiring oohs and aahs.
Buy large, fresh freestone peaches.
Carefully peel each peach, cut them in half lengthwise and discard the pits. Cut out any soft or discolored parts.
After peeling, place the peach halves in a bowl of cold water into which you have mixed two healthy tablespoons of ascorbic acid or Fruit Fresh.
Place your quart jars, lids, and rings on the stove to sterilize. Wide mouth jars work the best for peaches, but you can use either kind in a pinch.
While the jars are sterilizing, decide if you want to use heavy, medium, or light syrup, and follow the recipe for syrup that can be found under the Basic Instructions tab. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks to the recipe and allow them to simmer in with the syrup. Simmer the syrup and additional ten minutes so that the cinnamon will have time to infuse. You can also use ground cinnamon, but it makes the syrup kind of cloudy, and creates a sediment on the bottom of the jars.
I always cold pack, (raw pack), my peaches because I feel that hot packing makes them too mushy after they go through the canner, but you can do it either way. If you want to hot pack, then slide the peaches into the syrup and allow them to simmer for about three minutes before canning.
When you're ready to can your peaches, put a piece of star anise and a tablespoon of brandy into the bottom of the jar. Stack the peaches carefully in the jar. This can be a little difficult to do - especially for the layers at the bottom - so I keep a chopstick handy to spear them and flip them into place. Be sure to protect your hands, because the jars will be hot. Pack them into the jar clear up to the neck.
When the peaches are in the jars, place your canning funnel on the top of the jar and carefully ladle the syrup in until it is about 1/2" from the top. Once you've put syrup in all of the jars, take a kitchen knife and run it up and down around the sides to release any trapped air bubbles. After you do this, you will probably need to top the jars off with a little more syrup to bring the level back up to 1/2" below the rim.
Clean the jar rims and threads, and place the sterilized lids and rings on the jars. Process in your water bath canner according to the instructions at the website found on the Basic Instructions page.
I promise that these will be the best peaches you ever ate!