Do You Have To Peel Produce Before Canning It?

Canning fruits and vegetables isn't exactly a quick and easy process, which is why it makes sense to look for any shortcuts that don't affect the safety of the finished product. When you're carefully following all the steps involved in home canning, you don't want to cut corners that might make your lovingly processed produce turn out anything less than stellar.

Novices looking to can produce for the first time should read the USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning before even beginning the process. The guide is thorough, addressing the safety concerns in the canning process as well as providing best practices for ensuring you'll be happy with your finished product for a long time to come. Ohio State University Extension also has a factsheet about canning vegetables with procedures and tips about safe home canning.

When you're staring down a mountain of fresh fruit or vegetables destined to be canned, you may wonder if you absolutely need to peel them before you can them. It turns out the answer isn't necessarily straightforward.

Whether you need to peel produce before you can it depends on what you're canning

There are two considerations when you're deciding whether to peel vegetables and fruit when canning: the safety and quality of the produce. According to Healthy Canning, the best procedure for maintaining clean, safe produce is to wash, peel, then wash it again. They explain that simply washing the skins of fruits and veggies doesn't necessarily remove every trace of dirt, and the irregular surface may still harbor bacteria. Though the canning process, if done right, should sterilize the jars and the foods inside them.

Food Lion presents another perspective, based on their conversation with Kathie Lapcevic of Homespun Seasonal Living, who points out that leaving the peel on produce like tomatoes, plums, and pears saves time and preserves valuable nutrients. She says that you only need to remove the peel if you prefer the texture of the peeled produce. While Kathie does advise peeling peaches, citrus fruits, and beets, her position is that canning unpeeled vegetables is more a matter of preference, depending on what kind of fruit or vegetable you're working with. According to Practical Self Reliance, some peel carrots when canning only because the peel tends to get an unpleasant stringy quality after it's been canned.

The safest advice seems to be to follow your recipe's direction when canning produce. If the recipe instructs you to peel your produce, then peel you should.