By Wini Moranville | BHG.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
By freezing peaches during peak season, you can get a delicious reminder of how wonderful peaches are any time of year.
Bright, sweet, and a little bit tart, peaches are the quintessential mid-summer sweet. In fact, outside of fresh peach season, it’s easy to forget just how wonderful perfectly ripe peaches taste. By keeping them on hand in the freezer, however, you get a delicious reminder any time of year. Freezing peaches is easy, and you can enjoy them in so many ways, whether on their own or baked into cobblers and crisps (any recipe that calls for frozen peaches will work). We’ll cover how to flash freeze peaches and how to freeze peaches in a water or syrup pack so you’ll have frozen peaches for every culinary need.
Selecting the Best Fruit for Freezing Peaches
The first step to learning how to freeze peaches is to know how to choose the best fruit. When freezing peaches, always choose fruit at its peak of maturity. When ripe, peaches should be intensely fragrant and yield to light pressure at the stem end.
More tips for choosing the best fruit for freezing peaches:
- Look for tree-ripened peaches at local farmers markets and farm stands. Commercial peaches are often picked before they’re ripe. Ripening them at home might change their texture, but it won’t improve the flavor.
- Look for clingstone peaches starting in mid-June and freestone peaches from late July through September. Clingstone tend to be juicier and sweeter than freestone. However, as their name suggests, clingstone are more difficult to pit and slice.
- Note that for each quart of peaches you’re freezing in a water or syrup pack, you’ll need 2 to 3 pounds of fruit. To flash freeze peaches you can use any amount that fits in your freezer.
How to Flash Freeze Peaches
This method of freezing peaches is ideal for use in smoothies and peach ice cream. Flash freezing peaches means you’ll have high-quality frozen peaches for about 2 months versus packing in a water or syrup pack which lasts more like 8 to 10 months. But flash freezing is quicker. Here’s how to do it.
- Wash peaches with cool tap water. Using a sharp knife, cut each peach in half around the pit. Gently twist each half to expose the pit. Using the knife, pry the pit out of the peach. Slice peaches as desired.
- Place the peaches on a parchment-lined baking sheet or tray. Make sure the edges of the food do not touch, as this can cause the pieces to fuse together as they freeze. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.
- Label your freezer container with the type of food, the quantity in the container, and the date it was frozen. Remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the peaches to your freezer container. Freeze up to 2 months.
Choosing the Best Containers for Freezing Peaches in a Water or Syrup Pack
While you’re out picking up peaches, be sure to bring home the right containers for freezing peaches, too. Use containers that are durable, easy to seal, resistant to cracking at low temperatures, and moisture- and vapor-resistant. Also be sure to choose the right-size container for your volume of food; wasted space can lead to oxidation and freezer burn.
Here are our recommended vessels for freezing fresh peaches:
- Plastic Containers: Use rigid plastic containers with airtight lids designed for freezing ($3, Target).
- Canning Jars: Select canning jars that are approved for freezing ($15, Bed Bath & Beyond); this information is clearly noted on jar packaging. Use only wide-mouth glass jars; jars with necks can crack more easily as contents expand. To allow for food expansion, do not fill jars above the 1-inch line.
- Plastic Freezer Bags: Use bags designated for freezing, such as resealable bags ($3, Target) and vacuum freezer bags. These are made of thicker material than regular plastic bags and are more resistant to moisture and oxygen. Remove as much air as possible from the bags.
Stock up! Once you learn how to freeze fresh peaches, you’ll look forward to freezing other fruits, too. Next up? Find out how to freeze apples.
Preparing Peaches for Freezing in a Water or Syrup Pack
Before freezing peaches, you need to blanch and peel them. This step inactivates or slows enzymes that cause loss of flavor and color in your peaches.
Test Kitchen Tip: If you’re using a syrup pack for freezing fresh peaches, be sure to make the syrup before you prepare your peaches, as it needs to chill before using. See “Packing Peaches for Freezing,” below.
Step 1: Slit the Skin on Each Peach
First, wash the peaches with cool tap water, but do not soak them; drain. Then, use a sharp knife ($37, Williams Sonoma), to make a shallow X on the bottom of each peach. This step allows for expansion when the peaches get blanched.
Step 2: Blanching Peaches for Freezing
Blanching (plunging fruit or vegetables into boiling water then ice water to stop the cooking) firms the flesh, heightens flavor, and loosens the skin to ease peeling.
- Bring a large pot of water to boiling.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Carefully lower three or four peaches into the boiling water. Remove after 30 to 60 seconds.
- Using a slotted spoon ($10, Bed Bath & Beyond), transfer peaches from boiling water to the bowl of ice water.
Step 3: Peel the Peaches
When the peaches are cool enough to handle, use a knife or your fingers to peel the skin from each peach.
Step 4: Remove Peach Pits
To get that pesky pit out of the way, here’s what to do.
- Using a sharp knife, cut each peeled peach in half around the pit.
- Gently twist each half to expose the pit.
- Using the knife, pry the pit out of the peach.
Leave peaches halved, or slice if you desire.
Test Kitchen Tip: Wondering about freezing peaches whole? For the optimal flavor and texture, the best way to freeze peaches is halved or sliced, treating with color-keeper solution, and packing in one of the ways below. Freezing whole fruits works best with smaller fruits, such as berries.
Step 5: Treat Peaches with a Color-Keeper Solution
To preserve the color of the peaches, treat it with an ascorbic-acid color-keeper ($4, Target). The main ingredient in this commercial product is vitamin C, and it prevents fruits, like apple and peach slices, from oxidizing and turning brown during freezing and canning. Follow package directions for use.
Packing Peaches for Freezing in a Water or Syrup Pack
Peaches are usually frozen with added sugar or liquid for better flavor (unless you’re looking to flash freeze peaches). Here are your options and the packing instructions for each.
Freezing Peaches in a Water Pack
If you’re wondering how to freeze peaches without sugar, this is a great option: Spoon peaches into a pint- or quart-size freezer container (do not use glass jars), leaving ½ inch headspace for pints and 1-inch headspace for quarts. Pour water over the peaches, maintaining the specified headspace.
Freezing Peaches in a Sugar Pack
Spoon a short layer of peaches into a pint- or quart-size freezer container. Sprinkle lightly with sugar; repeat layering, leaving ½ inch headspace for pints and 1-inch headspace for quarts. Cover and let stand 15 minutes or until juicy before freezing.
Freezing Peaches in a Syrup Pack
With this method, you cover the fruit with a syrup made by boiling water and sugar. Generally, heavier syrups (which are sweeter) are used with sour fruits, while lighter syrups are recommended for mild fruits.
To make the syrup, place the following specified amounts of sugar and water in a large saucepan.
- Very Thin Syrup: Use 1 cup sugar and 4 cups water to yield about 4 cups syrup.
- Thin Syrup: Use 1⅔ cups sugar and 4 cups water to yield about 4¼ cups syrup.
- Medium Syrup: Use 2⅔ cups sugar and 4 cups water to yield about 4⅔ cups syrup.
- Heavy Syrup: Use 4 cups sugar and 4 cups water to yield about 5¾ cups syrup.
Heat and stir the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and skim off foam, if necessary. (Note: Allow ½ to ⅔ cup syrup for each 2 cups peaches.) Chill the syrup.
Spoon peaches into pint-size or quart-size freezer containers leaving ½-inch headspace for pints and 1-inch headspace for quarts. Pour chilled syrup over the peaches, maintaining the specified headspace.
Here’s how to freeze peaches once you’ve packed them using one of the methods above:
Wipe container rims (if using jars or plastic containers). Seal bags or containers according to manufacturer’s directions, pressing out as much air as possible. If necessary, use freezer tape ($8, Walmart) around lid edges for a tight seal.
Label each container or bag with its contents, amount, and date. Lay bags flat; add packages to the freezer in batches to make sure food freezes quickly. Leave space between packages so air can circulate around them. When frozen solid, the packages can be placed closer together.
Use frozen peaches within 8 to 10 months.
Test Kitchen Tip: How to thaw frozen peaches: Thaw in their container either in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cool water. If you’re using a recipe that calls for frozen peaches, generally, you’ll need to drain them before using them in the recipe.
Now that you know how to freeze fresh peaches, you’ll find all kinds of ways to enjoy them. You can simply serve them in a bowl for a sweet and simple dessert with a bit of cream poured over them, if you wish. Frozen and thawed peaches are also lovely served over ice cream. Add homemade raspberry sauce and some whipped cream, and you’ll transform your peach sundae into a classic French dessert known as Peach Melba. In fact, we’re pretty sure you’ll run out of your frozen peaches long before you run out of ways to enjoy them!
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