Turn fresh summer peaches into candied bits for later fruitcakes and other baked goods.
Candying fruit is basically a process that replaces the water in fruit with sugar. Sugar keeps the fruit from spoiling, a preserving method that has been around since ancient times.
Today most of us are familiar with candied fruit in one of two uses; either the containers of syrupy neon-colored fruitcake mixes that show up in the grocery store mid-November, or as pricey, chocolate-dipped glacéed apricots found in specialty shops.
Since I love (homemade) fruitcake, but abhor most pre-made fruit mixes, I have been making my own candied fruits every summer for years. Every year I make candied cherries, and sometimes I make candied citron or candied quince too. This year, in my role as Canbassador, I decided to experiment with a few fist-sized peaches, seeing if I could candy them enough to preserve, but still keep the fresh peach taste.
What is a Canbassador?
As a Canbassador my job is to make all kinds of wonderful preserved Washington fruit items and then write about them. I must say, it’s one of the best “jobs” I have ever held. Earlier this summer I received cherries from Northwest Cherry Growers, and this month peaches arrived courtesy of Washington State Fruit Commission .
How to Candy Peach Bits
- Wash and peel 2-3 large peaches.
- Slice wedges from each peach, removing the flesh from the pit.
- Chop each wedge into 3 or 4 bits, about ½ inch in size.
- Measure 3 cups of chopped peach bits.
- Combine 1 ½ cups sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.
- Bring sugar/water to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes, or until it reaches the soft thread stage (232 degrees).
- Add the peach bits to the saucepan, stirring just enough to cover the pieces with syrup.
- Cook for 50 – 60 minutes. Don’t stir while cooking. (see my tips and hints below)
- Remove from heat. Drain mixture, reserving syrup.
- Let peaches cool till slightly warm.
- Roll peach bits in additional sugar.
- Let dry overnight on a baking rack or a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Store in an airtight container.
Tips and Hints for Good Results
- If you let the peach bits cool enough before rolling in sugar, they will have a sugary look, like these cherries.
- But, if you try to roll them when they are still too warm (like I did!) the sugar will melt and they will have more of a glaceéd look.
- The peaches do retain some of their summertime fresh taste with this method.
- Since peaches are juicier than cherries, they are also juicier following the candying process. Therefore, I will cook my next batch for an extra half-hour, trying to dry them out a little more.
- Use the reserved syrup for another batch, or add it to iced tea or sparkling water.
How to Use Candied Peach Bits
- These peach bits will be fantastic in homemade fruit cake. You do make your own fruitcake, don’t you? If not, you should!
- They would also be good added to muffins or pancakes.
- Chop them and combine with cinnamon, butter, flour, and a little brown sugar for a coffee cake streusel.
- Add a few to the kids’ lunchboxes for a small but sweet treat.