Is there anything more summery than fresh peaches? Jeff and I got our hands on a bushel box of peaches a few weeks ago from the Ely Nordic Club. After picking up on a Tuesday evening, we headed home with a box full of peaches and not a lot of plans.
Turns out, we knew we couldn’t eat the peaches quick enough, so we needed to put them up as soon as possible. After reviewing the options, the time available, and what we had on hand, we decided that freezing was the best route.
It was our first time freezing peaches, so we scoured the interwebs to figure out the best way to do it. First order of business was getting the peels off, the pits out and everything sliced.
We dutifully scored X’s in the peaches, got a kettle of water going and dropped them in a few at a time. They were the size of softballs and it turns out, probably not quite ripe enough. Instructions were to let them boil for 30-60 seconds and then drop into an icebath. Supposedly, the skins would just slip right off.
That did not happen. Not even close. Instead we dropped into the water, pulled out after a minute and proceeded to hack away at them, trying to scrape off the skins. It was like trying to peel apples with a butter knife.
We left the second batch in for a few minutes — around four minutes or so. Or at least, Jeff and my mom who was there to help, left them in for four minutes. They are more the experiential type.
While they were boiling the peaches away, I was in my office researching. I’m more of the research type. Ultimately, we all came to the same conclusion. The peaches were too green, and boiling for longer didn’t really help the peels come off any better, although it DID cook the outer 1/8″ of the peach, creating a mushy layer that made it even more difficult to peel!
Ultimately, we were in for the bushel… we’d already scored them, so we weren’t at a place where we could stop and wait a few days.
Moral of the story: make sure your peaches are ripe when you get ready to freeze ’em!
We bravely continued on, and it turned out just fine. Although mom, who was on peeling and pitting duty, really got the brunt of the unripe peach excitement. She managed to get them all peeled and sliced with not much waste.
I was on bagging duty. Once mom got about four cups of sliced peaches, we’d dump them into a mixing bowl. I shook out a generous dose of Fruit Fresh and mixed everything up. We had a very light syrup prepared – we mixed three batches of about six cups of water and two cups of sugar in a kettle and warmed it up ’till the sugar dissolved, the poured into a bunch of carafes and pitchers we had lying around.
Once the peaches were mixed with the Fruit Fresh, I dumped them into a quart sized freezer Ziplock bag. I set up the bag in a plastic container to help it stay upright and then poured the light syrup over the peaches ’till they were covered and there was still about an inch left in the bag.
We sealed up the bags and obsessively wiped everything off. It was very, very sticky.
We layed the sealed bags of peaches flat and piled up on cookie sheets to put into the freezer. We got about ten bags of peaches from the bushel.
Being over enthusiastic in our syrup making, we had a ton left over. That was poured into ice cube trays, frozen and dumped into big Ziplocks for future sweet tea making.
At the end, the adventure proved quite successful, even with all the miscalculations and general lack of know-how involved! We used a batch to make a really simple peach crisp (using the old-faithful recipe from the red Betty Crocker book.) Just drain away the syrup and make a quick, tasty treat!