Cooking Peaches- The Ultimate Summer Fruit
Summer fruit brings to mind tomatoes, nectarines, plums, peaches and more. My favorite remains peaches. For sweetness and aroma cooking peaches can’t be beat. Preserving this summer goodness is easy. While you’re at it, save enough to enjoy now with ice cream, fruit toppings, fresh fruit salsa and in baked goods.
Start with fresh ripe peaches with little to no overly ripe soft spots. Choose for the delicious aroma, also. Whether you grow your own or buy from the local farmer’s market, harvesting and buying and cooking peaches, at the peak of the season will give you the best taste and texture.
Preparing Peaches for Canning or Freezing
Soft fruits, such as peaches, tomatoes and nectarines are easy to prepare for canning or freezing. Once the fruit has been quickly blanched in a simmering pot of water,then, removed to a pot of ice cold water, the skin slips right off. The peach often practically splits open for easy removal of the pit. The peach halves can be canned as is, in a simple syrup or plain water. Or, you can slice, dice or chunk the peaches. Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or citric acid, to keep the fruit from browning. Mix to distribute the lemon juice throughout the fruit.
At this point, you can place the peaches into freezer bags or into canning jars. I use a slotted spoon so I don’t get a lot of liquid in with the peaches I am freezing. Freezing is easy but has a shorter shelf life than canning due to possible freezer burn. I use a sturdy zip lock style freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. I flatten out the peaches into a single layer in the bag, which makes it easier to stack the bags in the freezer. When ready to enjoy, thaw the peaches in the bag in a refrigerator.
Using the Skins
(note: if you have farm animals or chickens that you like to treat to your kitchen scraps, be aware that pits and seeds can be toxic. I do not feed peach pits to my farm animals for this reason. The skin however, is a welcome tasty treat)
Canning Peaches to Enjoy Later
Fill the jars with the cut up or sliced peaches. Add the peach juice and boiling water to fill the jar within a half inch of the top of the jar. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth. Add the flat lid and the band to close the jar.
Process canned peaches for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts in boiling water in the Water Bath Canner. Look for other recipes such as brandied fruits, peach jam and jelly and peach pie filling to use your peaches with, also. Since peaches are a high acid fruit,(pH under 4.5) you will can most peach recipes using a hot water bath canner.
Other High Acid Fruits
Apples, peaches, tomatoes, nectarines, citrus fruits, pears and berries fall into the category of high acid fruits. It is important to use an approved canning recipe when using a hot water bath canner, because the acidity must be in a certain range. If you add non-acidic ingredients to the peaches, the total acidity will be lower, making it unsafe to can using a water bath canner.
Dehydrating/Drying Peaches for Storing
Peeled peaches can also be dried or dehydrated for long term storage. I use an electric dehydrator, but you an also use a sun oven for the same purpose. Store your dehydrated peaches in an air tight container or mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Use the dehydrated peaches in trail mix, and bake into cakes, or eat plain.
While you have the abundance of good fresh peaches in front of you, don’t forget the obvious opportunity to enjoy them fresh. Serve peeled sliced peaches with ice cream, cereal, plain, and keep a few on hand for lunch boxes. We prefer our peaches cold from the refrigerator but they can sit in a bowl on your counter or table, taking a turn at being a summer decoration, too. Grab one as you run out the door, for a healthy snack. Cooking fresh peaches into a thick topping is delicious when added to homemade vanilla ice cream!
Baking with Peaches
As you can imagine, cooking peaches is amazing when baked. This will be a delicious way to enjoy the harvest. Peaches taste and smell like summer. The cakes, pies, crumbles, cobblers, quick breads and triffles you make with your fresh peaches will prolong the taste of summer. Preserving the peaches from the season gives you the chance to enjoy peach pie and peach cake for any occasion, all year long.
When I was on an extended stay in Georgia one summer, when my little Georgia Peach granddaughter was born, I really enjoyed baking for her family. I came up with a peach cobbler recipe one day, by melding together a few different recipes from the internet search. Some weren’t quite what I was looking for and some were just full of ingredients that we didn’t have on hand. I came up with an experimental cobbler that turned out to be very popular! After all, isn’t this what Grammas do? One trick I learned while developing the cobbler recipe was to precook the filling for a set time, and then add the top crust batter. This resulted in a more crispy and less soggy crust on the cobbler. It also kept the crust from over cooking.
Georgia Peach Cobbler
for printable version of this recipe click here
FOR THE PEACHES
- 10 – 14 peaches, peeled, pit removed and sliced
- 2 teaspoons citric acid or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
- quarter cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
FOR THE CAKE TOPPING
- 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
- packed brown sugar -1/4 cup
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup boiling water
FOR THE TOPPING
- sugar – 1/4 cup
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg (optional)
PREHEAT OVEN TO 425 F.
- Using a large bowl mix the peach slices and the citric acid together.
- Add the sugars, cinnamon, and flour.
- Stir to evenly coat the peaches.
- Pour the peaches into greased 2 quart baking dish or 7 x 9 baking pan.
BAKE FOR 10 MINUTES
FOR THE CAKE TOPPING
- combine flour, both sugars and baking powder and salt
- mix in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks.
- continue to mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
- add the boiling water and mix until just combined
- Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the cake topping in spoonfuls all over the top of the peaches.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg mixture over the whole dish
BAKE UNTIL TOPPING IS GOLDEN BROWN ABOUT 30 MINUTES
- cool 10 minutes in pan
- serve warm
More about Peaches!
Peach Butter – Attainable Sustainable
Peeling, Canning and Drying Peaches – Common Sense Homesteading
Spiced Brandied Peaches – Homespun Seasonal Living
Peach Jam Two Ways – Common Sense Homesteading
Georgia Peach Cobbler – Timber Creek Farm
September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, In 2015 I teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm