The end of summer in Colorado is signaled by the arrival of peaches from the western slope. These peaches from Pallisade, Colorado are among the sweetest around, in my opinion, only to be rivaled with those from Georgia. This year, Pallisade peaches ripened about two weeks earlier than last year, due to our heat wave we have experienced this summer. I don’t mind the earlier delivery date; I will take these sweet stone fruits any time of year!
|Fresh peaches from Pallisade, Colorado, sliced, served with Greek yogurt, drizzled with honey, and tossed with toasted pecans.|
I make sure that I am not only able to enjoy these peaches at their peak ripeness now, but I am also able to enjoy them during the winter months by simply canning them, making jam or preserves, and freezing them. I had attempted freezing peaches, and I must have improperly frozen them because I experienced freezer burn. With a little research, I decided to give freezing peaches another try. I obtain so much useful information from pickyourown.org. This site offers advice on preservation techniques, as well as recipes to utilize your preserved bounty.
I had about 15 peaches in my possession, which is the perfect amount to freeze about three quarts. Make sure that you select mature, ripe, sweet peaches. The fruit should not be too mushy or too tough. The peaches must be packed in water and sugar (or white grape juice, if you are trying to stay away from using refined sugar); adding sugar or fruit juice simply adds additional flavor, stabilizes the color, and helps retain the shape of the peaches.
|Prepare the sugar and water solution first, so that it can cool, while you finish the other tasks.|
|Rinse peaches in cool water and be sure to only use non-blemished, ripe, sweet peaches.|
In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups of raw sugar with 6 cups of water. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. While heating the sugar and water solution, bring another pot of water to boil; this water will eventually be used to release the peaches from their skins. Wash the peaches and cut a small “X” at the base of each peach and set them aside.
|Cutting a small “X” at the base of each peach allows for easy skin removal, once the peaches have been quickly tossed in boiling water.|
While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside. Once the pot of water reaches the boiling point, gently place the peaches in the water and keep them there for 45 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the bowl of ice water to cool. Now the peaches are ready to be peeled quickly and easily.
|Cooling the peaches after boiling for 45 seconds.|
Take the peaches out of the ice water and remove the skins. Discard and compost the skins. Slice the peaches into desired thickness, being sure to remove any dark, mushy areas. Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl, and toss in 1/4 cup lemon juice, in order to prevent browning of the fruit. Add the cooled sugar and water solution, and gently stir. Now you are ready to transfer the peaches and mixture into freezer bags.
Using a ladle, transfer the peaches and liquid into quart-sized freezer bags. When sealing the bags, try to remove as much air as possible. I actually squeeze out as much air as I can, and then I sneak in a straw and suck out any remaining air. It is okay if you are unable to remove all of the air; you may experience a little freezer burn, but the flavor will remain, with no concern of spoilage. If you own a vacuum sealer, this process is much easier for you! I have had one of these on my list for years now… Label and date the bags, and lay them horizontally on a flat surface in the freezer.
|Freezing the peaches.|
It is about time for me to purchase another freezer, for I am running out of room to store the frozen goodness that we have acquired over the summer. As you can see from the photo below, freezing produce, soups, and stocks on a flat surface helps with organization and storage efficiency. Just store them vertically, once they have frozen and retained their flat shape. I love being able to color-code and sift through my freezer bags, almost like a filing system. Happy freezing!
|Yes, that’s a glass of beer on top of the pesto cubes! A little reward along the way with a resting spot that guarantees a cold sip!|