We’re super lucky to have access to a highly productive peach tree this year, thanks to the owners of one of our new garden spaces. With all their friends and neighbors invited to pick peaches from the tree, there were still loads to be picked! We took more than we could eat fresh and wanted to preserve the rest… the only problem? We were out of canning jars.
So how can you preserve peaches without having to can them? We figured out quite a few great options!
One of the easiest ways is freezing. It seems like most people prefer to peel their peaches before baking with them or freezing them. You can do this by dropping them in boiling water for a couple minutes, then running under cold water- the skin should slip right off (we do the same for tomatoes). However, our peaches weren’t uniformly ripe and didn’t always peel easily, so we just left some of the skins on- the texture didn’t bother us. Either way, remove the pits and slice the peaches, then place them on a baking sheet in the freezer so they can freeze individually- otherwise you’ll end up with a mass of frozen peach that you have to chip away at. Once frozen on the sheet you can transfer them to a container in the freezer. We’ve been using them in smoothies and instead of ice cubes in juices and drinks (they’re especially great in mimosas!).
2. Sorbet, sherbet, or ice cream.
I do think that the peaches lost some of their flavor in the freezing process, so after my first batch, I decided instead to try to enhance the flavor by making peach sorbet. I pureed some peach slices in a blender and added sugar, vanilla, and a bit of non-dairy coconut creamer. Then I added the mixture to my ice cream maker and waited for it to become the right consistency. It didn’t make it past the slush stage, but I grew up on Philly water ice so it was fine for me! There are loads of recipes for peach sorbet, sherbet, and ice cream on the internet that could get you better results…
Turns out my favorite way is dehydration- the peach flavor is better preserved. I didn’t bother peeling, I just removed the pits and sliced the peaches thin, then used our electric dehydrator. (In the future we hope to have a solar dehydrator!) You can also do this in the oven at the lowest temperature for several hours, placing the fruit on a wire rack over a baking sheet so the heat can flow around and under all the pieces. I’ve been snacking on the dried peaches on their own and also adding them to my granola.
4. Infusing Alcohol.
Did I say dehydrating was my favorite preservation method? I take that back. We infused about 1/4 of a bottle of our favorite locally-distilled, environmentally-friendly vodka with some peach slices by letting them sit at the bottom of the bottle for a couple of weeks. After straining the fruit out, we were left with a deliciously smooth, subtle peach vodka, and some seriously strong vodka-infused peaches. Both made some tasty summer drinks!
Do you have any other alternative methods for preserving peaches or other fruit? We’d love to know!