It’s hot, and that means peaches are lush, ripe, and plentiful.
Welcome To The Mid-Columbia
My husband likes to tell this story: We moved here to the sunny, dry, Mid-Columbia region almost 20 years ago from beautiful (but cold!) western Maine. We left Maine on April 1st in a snowstorm, still wearing our winter jackets, and arrived here on April 7th to green grass, trees in bloom, and kids playing baseball. It was like Dorothy waking up in Oz. The first thing I did was plant a peach tree. Needless to say, peaches don’t grow in the mountains of Maine. But they sure grow here!
What To Do With Peach Overload
We planted that first tree in the wrong location, but all these years later it is still producing peaches. But it is a late Elberta, so a few years later I planted another peach tree, this time an earlier version. So now I have peaches from mid-July to the first of September. There is nothing like stepping into your backyard and picking a ripe peach off the tree. The problem comes when hundreds of them are ripe at the same time, all demanding to “notice me, notice me!” I usually make peach preserves and peach butter, but most of the peaches are frozen for smoothies later in the year.
How to Freeze Peaches
- Freezing peaches for later is actually pretty easy. You don’t have to put them up in sugar syrup or bath them in ascorbic acid. You will want to keep the slices somewhat separate so that you can use as many as you want, without having to thaw the whole container.
- Prepare an acid bath for the peaches by partially filling a bowl with water and adding some lemon juice. How much lemon juice? I usually add about 1/4 cup to about 8 cups of water, but I NEVER actually measure. In fact, you can skip this step entirely if you wish. The lemon juice keeps the peaches from turning brown. Brownish peaches still taste fine, they just aren’t as pretty.
- Peel peaches, rinse, and drain in a colander. There are two ways to peel peaches; you can cut an X in the bottom, dip them in boiling water, rinse in cold water and then slide the skins right off. Unless this method doesn’t work. As it turns out, how easily peaches “lose” their skins depends on the type of peach, and the growing conditions. It’s easier for me to let the peaches get very ripe and then just peel them with a paring knife.
- Slice peaches and place the slices in the bowl of water/lemon juice. Discard the pits. Continue until all of your peaches are sliced.
- Drain peaches. Do not rinse, but drain thoroughly.
- Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the peach slices out on the paper. Tuck the baking sheet into the freezer until slices are completely frozen.
- Remove from freezer. Let thaw just enough so that you can remove the peach slices from the paper. Place the frozen slices in a zip-top freezer bag and store in freezer for future use.
Frozen peaches can be used in smoothies, to make pie, to top pancakes, in muffins and other backed goods, etc. A taste of summer all year long.