Freeze ripe peaches immediately after buying or harvesting them to best preserve their summer-tinged fragrance. Store underripe peaches at room temperature for a few days to ripen them naturally before freezing them. Use frozen peaches like fresh or canned peaches for baked goods, jams or other desserts. Freeze the peaches in cut pieces, halved or pureed, depending on how you plan on using the stored fruit.
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Why Freeze Peaches
Freezing summer peaches captures their taste at their peak. This lets you have a taste of the warmer months outside of the natural growing season. Freezing extra fruit during the summer also lets you take advantage of the lower prices of the harvest season. This makes a wintertime peach dessert less expensive.
Wash the peaches before freezing them to remove as much dirt and debris as possible. Run them under cold water until they are clean. Peel the peaches before freezing them, unless you want skin-on peaches.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil on high.
Score the peaches on the bottom with a shallow "x" using a paring knife. Cut through the skin, but not too deeply into the flesh.
Dunk three to four peaches into the pot of boiling water. Do not dip too many in at once, as this will significantly lower the temperature. Blanche them for 10 to 15 seconds.
Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and submerge them in an ice water bath. This stops the cooking process.
Peel off the skin in quarters. Cut the peaches into slices, halves or cubes.
Making Crushed Peaches
Cook the peeled, sliced peaches in a little bit of water over medium-high heat in a non-reactive pot. Use 2 to 3 tablespoon of water for every 2 1/2 cups of fruit.
Crush the peaches with a potato masher or blend them with an immersion blender when the peaches are soft, after about 5 to 7 minutes of cooking.
Seasoning the Peaches
Cut or crushed peaches may need extra ingredients, such as sugar and ascorbic acid or lemon juice to prepare them for freezing. These ingredients help preserve the texture of peaches in cold temperatures. They also reduce the chance the peaches will darken or pick up off tastes when frozen.
Toss sliced, halved or chopped peaches with a 2/3 cup of white sugar for every 1 1/3 pounds of cut peaches. The sugar acts as a preservative, reducing the risk that the texture and quality of the peaches deteriorate after freezing.
Submerge sliced, halved or chopped peaches in a simple syrup before freezing them. Like sugar, syrup preserves the peaches, keeping their texture and appearance from breaking down while in storage. Use a syrup that is one part sugar to two parts water. For example, an ideal ratio is 2 3/4 cups of sugar dissolved in 4 cups of water.
Keep crushed, sliced, halved or chopped peaches from darkening while in the freezer by adding ascorbic acid or lemon juice. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid or lemon juice for every quart of syrup. For sugar-packed peaches, use a 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid, dissolved in 2 to 3 tablespoons water, or 2 tablespoons lemon juice for every quart of sliced fruit. Crushed or pureed peaches need 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbic acid or 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per quart of crushed fruit.
For high-quality frozen peaches that last for several months in the freezer, package prepared fresh peaches properly.
- Store frozen peaches in freezer-safe containers, either bags, plastic containers or cans.
- Squeeze out all of the air in any plastic bags. Food frozen with little to no air exposure tastes fresher for longer.
- When storing peaches in plastic containers or glass jars, leave 1/2 inch of head space, which will give the food and syrup -- if you are using it -- room to expand during freezing.
- Freeze sliced or halved peaches individually by laying them out on a cookie sheet in the freezer for six hours. Transfer the frozen peaches to airtight containers or bags for longer-term storage.
Other Freezing Tips
- Wash and peel the peaches gently before preparing them. Ripe peaches bruise easily, so handle them with care.
- Freeze prepared peaches as quickly as possible, in the coldest part of the freezer -- the back or the bottom -- to best preserve them.
- A vacuum sealer is ideal for long-term freezing, as it removes all excess air.
- Crushed or pureed fruits do not require any added sugar to better preserve freshness, quality or taste.
Frozen peaches will keep for 3 to 5 months if they are stored correctly in a plastic container or resealable plastic bag. Vacuum-sealed frozen peaches, crushed or cut, will keep for six to eight months.
Using Frozen Peaches
Use frozen peaches like fresh peaches in pies, cakes, jams and sauces. Depending on the recipe, use frozen peaches as is, without defrosting them. This is most often the case for pies, cobblers, jams and sauces. Eat uncooked, thawed peaches as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. They will have the same flavor as fresh peaches, but the texture will be softer and silkier.