How to Freeze Peaches
lSelect peaches of good quality--ripe, but firm with rich yellow or orange-colored flesh. Freezing retains quality but cannot improve it.
lFreeze peaches as soon after harvesting as possible.
lWash peaches quickly in cold water. Slice directly into the carton containing antioxidant (anti-darkening agent) and syrup, or add sugar and antioxidant quickly to the fruit.
lPeaches are packed with sugar syrup or sugar to retain the color, flavor, and texture. Peaches packed without sugar will not retain their quality as long.
lOne to 1 1/2 pounds of peaches will yield 1 pint of preserved peaches; 20 pounds will yield 13 to 20 pints.
lWhen cooking frozen peaches, keep in mind how much sugar was added before the fruit was frozen.
lDefrost frozen peaches in the refrigerator, or under cold running water. One pint of fruit packed in syrup will thaw in 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator , and in 1/2 to 1 hour under running water.
lPeaches darken and lose flavor rapidly once they are thawed.
lThawed and refrozen peaches will suffer a loss in quality.
lYou may safely refreeze partially thawed peaches if they have been defrosted in the refrigerator and are cold to the touch and contain ice crystals.
Add an antioxidant to peaches to prevent darkening. Use one of the pretreatment methods listed below. The most common color protectors are ascorbic acid, commercial antioxidants, and lemon juice. Speed in preparing peaches for freezing and fast freezing will also reduce the amount of discoloration.
Ascorbic acid: For syrup pack: Add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup. For sugar pack: Add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid to each quart of fruit. (Note: 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid equals 1,500 milligrams in tablet form.)
Commercial antioxidant: These are a combination of ascorbic and citric acid and sugar. Two brands available locally are Fruit Fresh and Ever-Fresh. Follow the manufacturers instructions.
Lemon juice: Slice peaches into a solution of 1 tablespoon lemon juice per quart of water.
Use a container that protects the quality of the peaches while frozen. You may use any of the following containers for freezing: heavy plastic containers, glass freezer jars, plastic freezer bags; or heat-seal bags.
Milk, cottage cheese, ice cream cartons, margarine containers and household aluminum foil can be used for very short storage only.
Wash. Peel; or immerse peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute, then in cold water, remove skins.
Put 1/2 cup syrup (plus antioxidant) into each freezer container.
Halve or slice the peaches directly into cold syrup. Press peaches down and add syrup to cover.
The syrup should cover the fruit in the package. Use a crumpled piece of aluminum foil, waxed paper, or other water resistant paper on the top of the fruit to hold the fruit under the syrup and exclude air.
Seal and freeze.
Sugar syrup is used in various types, depending upon the amount of sugar they contain. Sugar content in the syrup will depend on the tartness of the fruit and your taste.
About 1/2 to 2/3 cups of syrup is needed for each pint of peaches. Fruits packed in syrup are generally more satisfactory for uncooked desserts, fruit cocktail and sauces.
More than 3 cups sugar to 1 quart water makes most fruit too sweet. Less than 1 cup sugar to 1 quart of water is seldom satisfactory. Use sugar and water in the following proportions for the various types of syrup:
You may replace about 1/4 of the sugar with corn syrup or honey. Higher proportions will give the peaches a very different flavor. The combination of corn syrup and sugar will not be as sweet. Honey has a definite flavor.
Either add the sugar to cold water and stir until it is completely dissolved, or heat the syrup to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil. Chill the hot syrup thoroughly before using. Keep syrup refrigerated until used.
Add 1 part sugar (by weight) to 4 or 5 parts fruit (by weight) to sweeten the peaches and protect their quality. The amount of sugar needed will vary with the tartness of the fruit and your taste.
Cut the peaches into a shallow bowl. Mix the sugar and peaches gently with a large spoon until the juice is drawn and the sugar is dissolved.
Unsweetened peaches can be used in pies, for jams and preserves, and other cooked dishes.
Slice or crush the peaches in their own juice, Be aware that changes in color, flavor and texture occur more rapidly in an unsweetened pack than in fruits packed with sugar or syrup.
The length of time peaches can be stored depends on the care with which the peaches were handled before freezing, the quality of the packaging materials, and the temperature of your freezer ( 00 F or below). Syrup and sugar packed fruits can be frozen at 00 F for 8 to 12 months; unsweetened fruits, 3 to 6 months. At higher freezer temperatures, the storage time should be reduced.
This information is provided by the University of California Cooperative Extension, August, 1997. For food safety and food preservation information contact the Extensions Common Ground Garden Program at 2 Coral Circle, Monterey Park, CA 91755.
Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef