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.
I used this method with peaches I drained from homemade Gourmet Peach Balsamic Vinegar I made this summer. Talk about another layer of flavor, amazing, and they still retained lots of the fresh Peach flavor. I figured it would work well because I had already done similar Candied Balsamic Orange Bite, with orange slices, drained and chopped, from a different batch of my homemade Gourmet Balsamic. I actually let them cook the extra 1/2 hour you suggested, then let them sit out on parchment on a cookie sheet all night to let them get dryer before I rolled them in sugar, I had also done this with the Orange Bites, and I worked great. My next attempts will be Cherry and Blueberry, they are now currently flavoring a couple of other Gourmet Balsamic Vinegars I’m working on. Needless to say I just discovered Gourmet Fruit infused Balsamic Vinegars this past spring, they can be so pricey in shops, so decided to attempt to make my own, its amazing, well worth the effort. Then I thought, why throw away the fruits after I drained it from the Balsamic, and came up with the Balsamic Candied Orange Bites, from remembering a recipe my mom learned from a friend in Greece called Candied Orange Peel. As I drained the peaches yesterday, I thought why not Candied Balsamic Peach Bites, thats when I found this recipe added my Drained Balsamic Peaches instead and went for it, thanks!
Sherrie, I have made flavored balsamic vinegar before, but never thought about then candying the fruit. What a great idea! Can’t wait to try it.