Local Peaches All Year Round: How To Prepare, and Freeze Peaches For Storing
There really isn't anything more delicious than a late summer/early fall, local peach, picked right from a local farm. The stuff sold in the supermarket in the winter is like a bland, sad stand-in for the juicy goodness that is local peaches.
Since this year we are on a mission to eat locally, in season, and rely mainly on local food that we prepared and stored in the summer and fall for those few winter months when produce in New England is pretty scarce, preparing peaches has been on my list of things to do.
We are lucky here in New England that in an agricultural environment where food is definitely tricky to grow due to our bizarre weather patterns and rocky soil, it is amazing just how varied our produce options really are.
For the vast majority of the year we really do have a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains to choose from...not to mention an abundance of locally, responsibly raised meat, fish, and dairy options. But during those few depressing months in the middle of winter when local options are limited, it is great to have the option of relying mainly of local foods that were prepared and stored from the summer, for consumption during the winter.
Thanks to modern refrigeration, and traditional canning methods for storing food, maintaining a diet that is full of nutrient-dense, local fruits and vegetables all year long is possible...it just requires a little prepping and planning.
how to prepare and freeze local peaches for consumption during cold winter months
If you are someone who has access to enough freezer space, freezing peaches is one of my favorite ways to maintain their nutritional content, and makes for excellent additions to smoothies, toppings for ice cream and yoghurt, and so many dessert and baked goods. It really isn't all that difficult to prep your peaches, with most of the work being able to be finished within one hour.
step one: Buy your peaches.
That may seem obvious but I recommend checking out your local farmers market during late summer/early fall when peaches are in peak season and trying a few peaches from a few farms.
Figure out which ones are best, and determine how much you would like to freeze for winter. I like to have two big gallon ziplock bags full, which is roughly 6-8 cups per bag.
I usually end up purchasing around 10 lbs of peaches since I notoriously end up snacking on some throughout the process, and also will can a few jars which I will get into in another post.
step two: clean your peaches
Make sure to rinse your peaches and make sure that there isn't any dirt or debris on them.
This step may be unnecessary because we are next going to place them in boiling water, but I still like to rinse my peaches first.
step three: Score and blanch your peaches
Put a large pot filled half way with water on the stove to boil. While your water is getting ready to boil, take your peaches and score the bottom of each peach. This just means that you are going to cut a shallow x into the bottom of each peach.
Once all your peaches are scored and your water in boiling place your peaches in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds.
You are also going to want to have another pot filled half way with water and ice ready to go for the next step.
step four: give your peaches an ice bath
After you have blanched your peaches, remove them from the boiling water and place them immediately in your prepared ice bath.
Let them sit there for a few minutes and then you can remove them from the water.
step five: peel your peaches
Now you are going to get to the fun part. Once your peaches have sat in their ice bath they now will be ready to peel.
Peel the skin off your peaches by gently rolling it up from the bottom where you scored your peaches.
The skins should come off pretty easily and will leave you with shiny skinned peaches ready for freezing
step six: prepare for freezing + freeze
Once your peaches have been skinned you can go ahead and cut your peaches into halves or quarters. The peaches should peel away from their pit easily make them easy to cut, and discard the core.
Once all your peaches are sliced, place them on a sheet of freezer paper on a small cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Try to keep your peaches from touching so that they will freeze individually, otherwise if you just throw them in a bag all at once in the freezer you will have one giant peach ball to work with.
Allow your peaches to freeze entirely before removing from the freezer
Step seven: combine and store
Once your peaches are frozen you can peel them up from the freezer paper and safely add them all into one ziplock bag.
I like to use the big gallon bags and will store them one on top of another laying flat in the freezer to maximize on storage.
Now you are ready to go and will have local, nutrient rich peaches to use during those out of season months.