Peaches begin to appear in abundance at the farmers markets in July and August. Choose varieties of peaches that are sweet and cling-free, which means they separate easily from the peach pit. These are sometimes called freestone peaches. The peaches should be firm but yield slightly to the touch. Canned peach pie filling keeps for 10 to 12 months in a cool, dark cupboard. This recipe is for 1 quart of peach pie filling.
Peach Pie Filling
Submerge the peaches in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds to loosen their skins. Place in cold water for 20 seconds, remove and remove the peach skins. Cut slices 1/2 inch thick.
Place slices in 1 gallon of water containing 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals, or 6,500 mg vitamin C tablets. This prevents browning.
Combine 3/4 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. ClearJel, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional), 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional) in a large saucepan. Stir and cook over medium high heat until mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and boil for one minute.
Add the drained peach slices and cook three additional minutes. Fill sterilized jar to 3/4 inch from the top. Wipe excess peach mixture from the jar edge. Seal the lid and tighten the ring around it.
Put the filled jars in the large cooking pot or canning pot with at least 1 inch water covering them. Boil for 30 minutes.
Put the jars of filling in a cool place overnight. Test each jar to see that the lid is on tight. It should not "pop" when touched.