Last Friday Two weeks ago (9/4) I had the opportunity to get a 20 lb box of local enough organic peaches for a good price. And so I jumped on it. I couldn’t quite envision what 20 lbs of peaches would be, but armed with three canning/preservation books, 1 dozen pint jars, 1 dozen half-pint jars and 10 quart jars if needed I started doing a bit of recipe reading. I’ve spent most of the past week thinking about, prepping for, cleaning up after and canning. Not that I’ve done mass quantities like some people, but I’m slowly getting over my nervousness about this whole process.
I decided to freeze some peaches, since I don’t think I’m a big canned peach fan (I never buy them for what that’s worth), make two, maybe three types of jam, make salsa and bake. Then in the middle of it all pickles started calling to me again (but really that is another post). We started by freezing them, I made room in the freezer for one cookie sheet, read up on blanching peaches (for peeling) and got started. We had a few hiccups on the first batch when the first blanching instructions didn’t call for an x scored in the peach to aid peeling and the timing was off due to our peaches being slightly under ripe. A lot of the freezing directions talked about packing them in water, juice or syrup but I wanted easy access to frozen peaches for smoothy making so I froze them individually; I also found one book claiming you can freeze whole peaches and just peel and pit them once they defrost. I guess this is good to know if you are really short on time but it seemed very limiting on what you can do with the finished product. I had no problems with browning, but haven’t done anything with them yet other than sneak a bite of a single frozen peach slice.
- 4 peaches
- 1 vat of boiling water
- 1 vat ice water
- 1 slotted spoon that will hold a peach
- 1 kitchen timer
- 1 cutting board
- paring knife
- 1 bowl for pits and skins
- 1 cookie sheet
- wax paper or parchment paper*
- 2 quart size freezer bags
*It is a lot easier to remove frozen peaches from wax paper than the bottom of the cookie sheet. Ask me how I know.
Bring your pot of water to a boil. You want it full enough to submerge the peaches but not so full that water overflows once they are in the pot (have a cup handy in case you need to remove excess boiling water). While you wait for the water to boil, wash your peaches, score the bottom with an X shape (each cut is maybe 2″, but just eyeball it), get your bowl of ice water ready and set up very near the boiling water, get the cutting board and peach pit bowl ready, cut a sheet of wax/parchment paper to fit the cookie sheet and put it in place.
When the water is boiling gently place each peach in it and set the timer for 30-60 seconds (the riper peaches take less time). I like to use the slotted spoon to help me lower the peaches into the water without splashing myself. Once the time is up, use the slotted spoon to transfer each peach from boiling water to ice water. Let the peaches cool for about 1 minute and then remove to the cutting board. Proceed to peel them. I like to cut the peach in half and remove the pit before peeling. Generally speaking you should be able to grab at one of the corners of your scored X with your paring knife (or clean fingernail) and peel away the peel. It might not come in one big piece so just repeat until it is removed. At absolute worst you use the paring knife to cut away stubborn peel.
Once the peach is peeled you can set it aside and peel the rest or you can peel, slice, peel, slice, peel, slice and so on. I like to slice each half in half (so quarters) and each quarter into even slices, giving me 12 slices per peach. Place slices on the cookie sheet (well on the paper on the cookie sheet), bonus points if you can arrange them so it is easy to divide evenly between your freezer bags. Place on an even surface in your freezer and freeze at least a few hours or overnight. Remove cookie sheet, label 2 quart sized freezer bags and place 2 peaches, or 24 slices in each bag. Our bags averaged at 12 oz each, I’m sure 1 pound would have fit just fine, but not all 4 peaches.