August brings with it the hot weather, search for rain, and peaches. Wonderful, glorious peaches.
I’ve always maintained strawberries and blueberries to be my favorite fruits, probably because I was told as a child that I had to keep eating strawberries for my hair color to stay red. Also, I just really enjoy popping these small berries into whatever dessert or breakfast dish I can find.
Yet, peaches have been creeping up on that list in the last few years. Especially now that we have two peach trees planted on the homestead, they are quickly becoming one of my top fruits for fresh eating.
I am 100 percent OK with this happening, and so much so that we purchased 75 lbs of bulk peaches this year for fresh eating and preserving through the winter.
Yet peach season is short, and most of the peaches I’ve experienced have short shelf lives. So what do I do with 75 lbs of peaches to extend this newly found favorite across the seasons? I canned a few jars of spiced peaches and this year I attempted to make jam (it turned out to be a bit more like syrup), but that didn’t really make a dent into my pile of peaches because I had limited time to can.
The quickest and easiest way to preserve peaches was to freeze them. The process is similar to how blueberries are frozen, and while it takes a small amount of time to set it up, the results are fantastic.
To Freeze Peaches:
- Gather together your peaches. Wash them well with water and then move to a table or large counter-top space. I place the clean peaches in a colander with a towel underneath to catch any extra water.
- Get two bowls set up: one for peach slices and one for compostables. OR alternatively, have a sheet pan ready and a bowl for compostables. I’ve done this both ways and it works great either way.
- Peel the peaches with a knife, keeping the bowl for compostables right in front as you do this so the peelings drop right into the bowl. Then, slice the peach into quarters by running the knife around the peach in two circles. If you want smaller pieces, do this 1-2 more times, creating more slices as you go.
- I then pop the slices out by sliding my knife into one of the pre-made cuts and scraping it along the pit and under the peach slice. This method takes a few tries to perfect and works well for free stone peaches-it is much more difficult with clingstone peaches.
- Drop the peach slices into the designated bowl or directly onto the sheet pan. If using a bowl, we sometimes throw a few squirts of lemon juice in there to help keep the color. This year we didn’t bother to do that, and the peaches kept their color just fine.
- Fill the sheet pan with the slices laying on one side. It doesn’t matter if the slices are touching because once they’re frozen, it’s pretty easy to break them apart.
- Put the filled sheet pans into the freezer for at least 3 hours, or until frozen. We typically leave ours in over night because we’re busy people and it’s easy to forget the peaches are there.
- Once the peaches are frozen, use a butter knife or a metal spatula to ease the peaches off the pan. They will likely come off in big clumps, which means you can then break the clumps up into whatever sizes work best for you.
- We place our peaches in gallon size bags as they’re easy to maneuver in a chest freezer and we can fit a large amount in one bag. It’s also easy to pull the bag out, measure what peaches are needed, and put the bag right back in the freezer.
The most time consuming step for this whole process is the peeling and slicing of the peaches. Adam and I don’t mind this process as it gives us time to talk together, but I’ve also listened to music, audio-books, and pod casts while doing this job. It’s a wonderful feeling of simplicity when you know where your food comes from and the work required to have it out of season.
We use our peaches mostly for smoothies in the winter, but also in oatmeal, cobbler, and a few other recipes. As long as you’re going to be cooking with the peaches right away, freezing is great for preserving the color and taste of fresh summer time.
How do you use frozen peaches?