Well folks, it’s finally happened. The most glorious time of the year has graced us with its presence. And no, it isn’t Christmas. It’s peach season. And let me tell you, receiving news that the peaches are in is up there along the lines of Christmas morning as a kid. There is truly nothing on Earth, in my opinion, that can quite compare to the taste and texture of a perfectly ripe peach freshly picked off the tree, still warm from the sun. It’s some kind of magic. So when my cousin called to let us know it was time to come pick peaches this year, my aunt, grandmother and I loaded up and headed to the peach orchard, 5 gallon buckets in tow.
It wasn’t long after we arrived that we’d collected our fair share of peaches. And by fair share, I mean a 5 gallon bucket full each, along with another 5 gallon bucket just for good measure. We packed up our loot and headed home, the car smelling much more heavenly than it had before, thinking about all the ways we would put our hauls to use.
For me, the absolute best way to enjoy a good peach is peeled and eaten over the sink, juices dripping down your hands and chin. It may not be considered very ladylike, but who cares about that when there’s peaches to be eaten. There’s just nothing quite like it. I swear I could eat 10 peaches in a row just like that, if not more.
But the devastating thing about peaches – they don’t keep. Once a peach is ripe, it has to be used up immediately or else it’ll go bad. And letting a good peach go bad should be considered a sin up there with lying and stealing, in my opinion. So what’s a peach lover to do? Here I found myself with a refrigerator full of an overwhelming number or ripe peaches and no time to eat them all before it was too late!
Now of course you can always make cobblers, pies, jams, jellies – the list goes on and on. But I took a moment and considered my future self, sitting in front of the fire on a cold rainy January day wishing I had some fresh peaches to lift my spirits. And while that may not be entirely possible, we can get pretty close. Peaches freeze beautifully, and once thawed they can be eaten just like a fresh sliced peach. They’re also perfect for use in desserts or jam making when the kitchen is a little cooler and you feel more inclined to boil 5 gallons of water.
Freezing peaches is very simple, although it is a little tedious. But your future cold self will thank you in a few months!
The first step is to wash your peaches. Then, with a small paring knife, make a small X in the bottom of each peach. This will help the skin slip right off after blanching.
Now you need to bring a pot of water to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Carefully place your peaches in the water in small batches, allowing them to soak from 30 seconds to a minute. Look for the skin to start to peel back where you made the X earlier.
Scoop the peaches out using a mesh strainer and either place them into a bowl of ice water to immediately stop the cooking, or spread them out on a cookie sheet in front of a cold fan or air conditioner. The goal here is to bring down the temperature of the peaches so the actual meat of the peach doesn’t start to cook.
After your peaches have cooled down, they will have the most beautiful soft texture and color. I seriously couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful pinks and oranges that came out after their hot bath.
Now comes the most tedious part. Peel and chop your peaches into whatever size and shape you want. After blanching, the skins should slip right off. I like to slice my peaches in wedges around the pit. Just be sure not to waste any of that delicious fruit!
As you peel and chop, add your sliced peaches to a big bowl. For every peach you place in the bowl, add about a 1/2 tsp of sugar. This will keep your peaches from oxidizing and turning brown.
As you bowl fills up, scoop the peaches into a quart freezer bag about halfway, squeeze out any extra air and seal.
Be sure to label your bags with the contents and date and pop them in the freezer. And that’s it folks! You’ll be whipping up a fresh peach cobbler in the middle of winter before you know it. These peaches will stay good until next peach season rolls around, although they probably won’t last that long in my freezer! What can I say, I just can’t say no to a peach.
So get to chopping and put some peaches up for the months to come. After all, peach season only rolls around once a year! Enjoy!