This is the first year that our peach trees are producing
enough fruit to preserve. Any recommendations on best way to freeze peaches.
This is going to be a simple answer, because freezing peaches is very, very easy.
1. Peel the peaches. If they don't peel with relative ease, let them ripen a little more until they do. Another way to facilitate peeling is to dip the peaches very briefly in boiling water, but this is seldom necessary. There is no, rpt. no need to precook or heat peaches for freezing.
2. Cut the peaches into slices, chunks, or whatever shape you prefer. Using quart-size ziplock freezer grade bags, spoon the cut peaches into the bags with 1/4 cup sugar. The sugar is not so much to sweeten as to act as a preservative. If you are freezing a variety that is highly likely to brown upon thawing, add a dash of fruit fresh or citric acid.
3. The peaches and sugar will immediately form juice in the bags. Gently squeeze the bags until the juice is right up to the zipper, then close it. Evacuation of air is important for maintenance of quality in frozen storage. A few bubbles are ok.
4. Long-term storage of peaches (or anything else) of more than 3-4 months is best done in a deepfreeze. The freezer compartment of a normal automatic defrost refrigerator will work for a while, but these units defrost twice each 24 hours and will not maintain frozen quality nearly as well as a deepfreeze, which normally runs below zero or close to it all the time.
Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA
Plus, don't wait till peaches are dead ripe. The firmer the peach the better the texture when frozen or cooked. A day or 2 before optimum eating (unless you like crisp peaches) is what to shoot for.
My method of freezing peaches:
I place some water into a big bowl and then stir in a couple of spoonfuls of frozen orange juice concentrate to make a dilute orange juice.
Peel and slice the peaches and drop them into the water. Keep going until the bowl is full of peaches with just a bit of water to dampen them. You have to stir occasionally as you go, to make sure each slice gets coated with the dilute orange juice.
Then scoop the peaches into ziploc freezer bags and freeze.
The citric acid in the oranges juice should prevent browning. I like it better than lemon juice in my frozen peaches.
Add sugar, or not, to your taste. It does have preservative qualities, but fruit freezes fine without it, especially if the fruit is sweet and ripe when you freeze it. If fruit isn't sweet, then adding sugar before freezing gives the fruit a chance to absorb the sweetness.
Convenient size for me is the quart bags. After they freeze, I place them inside a gallon ziploc freezer bag, both for double protection and to keep them confined together.
Write the date and what's in the bag with a sharpie, right on the ziploc. If I use plastic freezer containers, I label with freezer tape.
All these methods are great, my favorite way to freeze peaches is just a little bit different. Peel and pit the peaches, slice into bite sized pieces, sugar lightly, refrigerate overnight, then pour into a semi-frozen french vanilla custard ice cream base and freeze into ice cream.
As your harvest increases in the coming years, you may also want to consider canning them. Frozen peaches are great for many things, like smoothies and recipes, but they take up freezer space and in an extended power outage you may lose them. Canned peaches can be canned in juice or syrup or made into preserves, pie filling and other recipe bases.
destin's vanilla/peach ice cream is also a fantastic idea, but for some reason it just doesn't seem to keep. :)
Or dry them. I bought a food dryer this year and the dried peaches are exceptionally good. The dried Japanese plums on the other hand are fine but not nearly as good as when fresh.
I would recommend people skip the cheap dehydrators and go right to the good ones. When I was a kid we had a large dehydrator that looked like an early microwave. It was awesome, and got much use. I have a cheap electric dehydrator and it mostly makes slightly burnt crisps. It looks and sounds like a hair dryer with a cap on it.
I want to build a solar dehydrator. It's on the list, but I don't really need to handle such large quantities yet.
I run them through the juicer which does nothing more than remove the skins, nest the juice is poured into qt. freezer bags and frozen. Grrreat for blending with apple juice all winter long!
Yes, for some reason, my method for freezing peaches rarely lasts more than a couple of weeks, but as a follow up for a Sunday diner of fried chicken, field peas, corn bread, rice and country milk gravy; I'm not sure it can be beat...of course you may be sleeping the afternoon away....but.... ;->