There are very few things that come from the garden that are better than a perfectly ripe, juicy peach. And in my opinion, there are very few things worse that come from the garden than a mushy brown canned peach.
Mrs. Stoney and I both can’t stand canned peaches, so for years we have only eaten peaches when they were in season, which in Utah is from mid-August to late September. The only problem is that we never really get to eat our fill because at that same time, we are overwhelmed with melons and raspberries from our garden.
We tried canning our own peaches and although they were a ton better than the store-bought cans, they still weren’t what we were looking for. We wanted that fresh-grown taste to top our breakfast or fill our cobblers in February. We finally found what we were looking for when we started freezing our peaches.
Some day we hope to make enough space in our garden for our own peach tree but for now, we have to rely on the farmers market to fill our needs. We buy our fruit from McMullin Orchards a fourth-generation fruit farm located in Payson Utah. We love McMullin’s fruit and we love that they are local. Payson is only about 40 miles from our house so the fruit doesn’t have to travel far to get to us. Click here if you would like to visit their web site.
Freezing peaches couldn’t be easier. First, be sure you give the peaches time to ripen. Even local farmers have to pick their fruit a little early in order to have it ready for the weekend markets. We usually give ours at least a week to ripen, the disadvantage (depending on how you look at it) to this is the house fills with the smell of delicious fruit and we find at least a quarter of what we buy ends up being eaten before it ever gets a chance to be frozen.
Second you need to be sure to clean the fruit well.
Third we blanch the peaches for a few minuets in boiling water to release the skins.
Next remove the skin and slice the peaches into small pieces. We usually cut each peach into 8 to 10 pieces and then remove the pit.
We use two different types of containers for our peaches. About half go into glass pint jars. If we had the space we would use jars for all of our peaches, we prefer them to plastic because we like to avoid the chemicals in plastic bags and containers whenever we can. But jars take up a lot of space in the freezer so we usually only do 8 or 10 jars.
We pack the jars full leaving a little head space to give everything some room to expand when it freezes. We then fill the empty space with a little water.
The balance of the peaches go into freezer bags with just a little sugar depending on how you like them. It is important to think about your serving sizes when you do this. One giant gallon-size bag full of peaches becomes a huge unusable chunk of peach-flavored ice. You need to fill each bag with just what you will use in a setting.
Freezing peaches this way preserves the flavor and texture a lot better than canning. But only plan on freezing what you will use in 6 months to a year. They will only last that long in your freezer.
Our favorite way to use these peaches is to get a bag out and let it defrost only till things start to get a little soft. We then eat them in this partially frozen state either by themselves or as a topping for cereal or cottage cheese. They are delicious! If you let them defrost completely they will resemble the texture you get from a can and can be used in cooking or baking. The flavor will be much more intense because it hasn’t been cooked out of the fruit as it is when you can!
**As with any of the preserving advice given on Stoney Acres you need to follow the up-to-date preserving methods. We have had success with this method but you should always purchase a recent copy of a canning guide, for example, “The Ball Blue Book” and follow the directions closely. You can also get advice from your local extension agency. Please do your own research and get advice from your local experts, don’t just rely on our advice.