Saturday, August 20, 2011

Peachy Experiment

Receive a plum, return a peach.
Vietnamese Proverb

There is nothing like a fresh peach! Not being keen on canned peaches and wanting to taste some August sweetness in the depths of November, I bought a box of peaches during our last outing into the Niagara Peninsula. Peaches have been harvested here since 1779 and less than a century later there were approximately 375,000 peach trees showing the popularity of the fruit. Unfortunately, not one of these early varieties still exists.

I wasn't sure how to preserve my treasures without investing in canning jars but Mr. Google came to the rescue providing multiple methodologies for freezing peaches, so I decided to experiment to see which technique produces the best tasting, best looking, and best textured fruit. I will update this page over the next few months as we taste each result. So stay tuned.

1. Pick Your Own [dot] org recommended submerging fruit in a sugar solution. Mom and I had quite an assembly line going for this one with all the peeling, slicing, bagging and submerging operations and quite a few peaches were processed quickly. We have some concern about the added sugar but we shall see.
August 28 Update: I just bought another big basket of peaches for preserving so we tested the results of our initial peaches in syrup experiment. I was pleased with the flavour (yes, they are quite sweet, but deliciously so), and texture (soft, but not mushy). I would make this recipe again.
2. Another sugary recipe, provided by Ontario Tender Fruit, called for coating the fruit with a mixture of sugar and ascorbic acid. With no vitamin C or fruit preservative on hand, I dipped the fruit into a water and lemon juice solution, sprinkled sugar over top and stored in Ziploc bags.

3. Simply Frugal recommended skinning, slicing and dipping the fruit in lemon water, then laying the sliced fruit out on a cookie sheet and freezing before transferring the fruit to freezer bags for long-term storage.

4. From Mother Earth News, came the simplest option; no more than putting whole peaches, skin and all, into a Ziploc freezer bag and freezing. In theory, when I want a peach, I simply take one from the bag, run it under water which will cause the skin to slid off, and slice the fruit into a bowl. Sounds too good to be true, so time will tell.
August 21 Update: Yes, it's only a day later but we wanted fruit with our lunch and I had frozen all the peaches so I pulled three whole ones from the freezer. The skin slides off under running water, just as Mother Earth News said, but some time is needed before a knife can cut through the fruit. Being impatient, I zapped each peach for 20 seconds in the microwave, that was enough to easily slice through the semi-frozen fruit and, as a bonus, the fruit comes away from the pit beautifully. Seems to me that this is a perfect way to preserve fruit for future use in baking. Although the peach slices were soft when thawed, the texture was not mushy and so we all enjoyed our 'fresh' fruit with lunch. I am very satisfied with the results of this method.

All of the methods for freezing peaches were simple and I see another trip to our favourite roadside fruit stand in the near future. ;-)


Anonymous said...

First picture rules;)
(Sorry, I'm cats-obsessed...;))

Anonymous said...

I just noticed that Cat was checking out the peaches too. Very cute!