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Peaches are my favorite fruit so any chance I can get to preserve and freeze some in the summer I do! Since we live in such a cold climate, peaches do not grow well here. I found a local farmer who brings cases of pesticide free peaches over from Washington and sells them at a good bulk price. They are so delicious and juicy! Preserving them by freezing is super easy and all we have to do is thaw out a quart in the winter and it’s just like eating fresh peaches in the summer!
A few years ago I was running low on space in our freezer so I ended up canning peaches instead of freezing to preserve them. We have been so busy lately trying to preserve the trunk full of seconds produce from my friend’s farm that we just don’t have the time to can peaches right now. We have the space in our deep freezer so my mom and I tackled preserving the case of peaches. We were all finished up with quarts of peaches in the freezer in two hours tops!
How to freeze and preserve peaches
Our process for preserving peaches is actually similar to how we freeze and preserve tomatoes. The main difference with preserving peaches is that we pour a light syrup on the peaches to help prevent browning. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved eating a warm freshly skinned peach. Every summer growing up when I helped my mom freeze and preserve peaches, I would sneak a quick snack of a warm freshly skinned peach from the batch. It is so delicious! If you haven’t tried it, you really should. I’ll even confess that there have been times during the year that I’ve boiled a small pot of water just to skin one peach to eat warm for a snack. Yum! Ok, now on to the steps for how we preserve and freeze peaches:
- Step 1: Rinse the peaches to remove any dust or dirt. Remove any leaves.
- Step 2: Boil a large pot of water. Carefully place the peaches in the water for a few minutes until the skins crack.
- Step 3: While the peaches are boiling, make a light syrup which will later be poured on the cut peaches to help them stay more fresh when frozen and help prevent them from turning brown. The basic light syrup recipe I use is from my beloved Ball Canning cookbook. The syrup I prefer is “extra light” with approximately 20% sugar: 1 1/4 cups sugar and 5 1/2 cups water for a yield of six cups of syrup. (You may need to double/triple the syrup recipe depending on how many peaches you have.) To make the syrup, mix the sugar and water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Reduce to a simmer until needed.
- Step 4: Once the peach skins crack, remove the peaches from the water with a slotted spoon. Place them on a cookie sheet with an edge or a tray to cool.
- Step 5: Once cool enough to pick up, slip the peach skin off. Remove the stem if it is still attached.
- Step 6: Slice the peach the whole way around top to bottom and back up to the top as far in as the pit. Gently twist the two peach halves and they should come apart. One side should detach from the pit. (We always try to buy the varieties of peaches that come off the pit easily since it makes this process so much quicker and easier!)
- Step 7: Discard the pit. Cut the peach into slices. Place the slices in a freezer safe container. (I keep a stash of 32oz plastic yogurt containers for freezing and my mom also gave me some of these that I really love since the lids twist on tight) Fill the containers a little more than half full of peaches.
- Step 8: Pour syrup over the peaches to cover them and have about 1/4″ of syrup above the peaches. Make sure there is about 1/2″ of headspace at the top to allow for expansion when it freezes. When filling freezer containers with peaches, try to pour syrup over top as soon as possible since peaches start to brown when exposed to the air for too long.*
- Step 9: Cut a small square of wax paper slightly larger than the opening of your freezer container. Gently push the wax paper down into the container so it helps to hold the peaches down under the syrup to prevent browning. I forgot to do this step one year and the peaches on the top browned slightly. I ate them anyway because I love peaches, but they just aren’t as pretty and appealing when they turn a little brown!
*My Ball Canning Cookbook suggests using a product called Fruit Fresh by Ball to mix into the fruit to help prevent browning. I personally prefer not to use this additive because I have not had issues with brown fruit when it is properly covered with syrup and wax paper. I do know people (including my mom!) who use it and keep doing so because that is how they were taught to freeze fruit years ago. I figure there is no reason to spend money on something like Fruit Fresh if I’ve had success freezing and preserving non-brown fruit without it!
How to use frozen preserved peaches
Growing up, my mom usually froze peaches instead of canning them too. We often would have a scoop of peaches in light syrup in a bowl for a snack or desert. This is what our family usually does too. We also use the peaches to make a fruit cobbler or crisp, put on top of vanilla ice cream, or puree in a smoothie.
Once the peaches are gone, there is usually some syrup left in the container. I don’t like letting things go to waste so use this syrup to mix in my smoothie or in a cup of home brewed black tea. I absolutely love this brand of peach tea but don’t like buying it all the time at the store since it can get spendy when I’m trying to stick to a budget. Now I can make my own using the syrup from our preserved peaches and it’s actually tastier than the store bought kind!
Other ways to preserve peaches
I mentioned earlier I have canned peaches before. I don’t have a post written up yet on how I did this so in the mean time you can check out this post from the Prairie Homestead on how to can peaches.
I also have read that some people have dehydrated peaches. This isn’t something I’ve tried but would like to sometime since it could be a tasty, healthy snack for our family. Here’s a post from Common Sense Home on how to dehydrate peaches