Lazy Preservation At Its Best: Freezing Peaches

Last week I ordered 100 pounds of peaches from this new fruit CSA from Eastern Washington that serves the greater Seattle area (by the way, for local people, I’ve had great service and fruit from them for an excellent price and will be ordering again soon).
After jamming and canning and drying until my floors were coated with a fine film of sticky peach juice it occurred to me to freeze some peaches.
A little web-browsing revealed a technique where you just stick a whole, ripe peach in the freezer. You do not blanche, peel, pit, section or do any of the other time consuming bits. You just chuck the whole peach in the freezer. 
After canning, salsa-ing and jamming some 80 pounds of peaches this was just the kind of technique I was looking for.
I experimented with 12 ripe peaches. I placed them on a sheetpan and put the whole thing in the freezer. Then I forgot about them for several days. For longer term storage I would toss the frozen peaches into a freezer bag or other air-tight container.
Here’s what a frozen peach looked like straight out of the freezer. Yup, that’s right, it’s a normal peach with frostbite.

My son could not keep his hands of the frozen peach, even though he hated how cold it was when he grabbed it. Made picture-taking somewhat of a fraught adventure.

I microwaved the peach for a minute at 50% power and it didn’t seem fully thawed, so I microwaved it for another 30 seconds and it seemed good. Thawing times will vary based on your microwave and what power setting you use. Countertop thawing would, obviously, take longer, but would probably result in a more consistently thawed product.

Here’s the coolest part ever: the skin fell off the peach. I gently rubbed a napkin across the peach and the skin peeled right back. Easiest way to peel a peach, ever. If your peach plans involve jam or syrup I highly recommend a freeze-blanche instead of a hot water blanche to remove skins.

Biting into the peach it looks and mostly tastes like a fresh peach. The flavor was a bit dulled because the peach was still pretty cold, I think. The texture wasn’t juicy, like a fresh peach. It was softer – one might say mushy, even – but not in an unpleasant way.

Again with my little helper.

Finally I gave up and just let him enjoy his peach prize.

Whole Peach Freezing Pros:
  • super fast and easy
  • best way to peel a peach that will go on to be cooked where firm texture isn’t critical (i.e., jams)
  • allows you to put off further processing - jamming, etc. – until temperatures are cooler
  • peach retains excellent color and flavor if frozen while very ripe
  • allows you to preserve without additives or additional sugar

Whole Peach Freezing Cons:

  • Texture of peach not the same as fresh
  • Peach requires time-to-thaw before eating, unlike canned peaches
  • Not a space-efficient way to preserve a large volume of peaches
  • Energy use for long term storage in freezer is likely higher than preservation through canning

A big unknown about this technique is if frozen peaches can be packed in syrup and canned. I will be doing an experiment in the next few weeks to determine how the texture of syrup-canned peaches are effected by a freeze-blanche. If anyone has any experience with this, please let me know.

On the whole, I’d say this technique is ideal for people with a large volume of freezer space and a desire for lots and lots unsweetened fruit (this would describe my family pretty well). Fruit would be excellent used for smoothies, crisps, pies, etc. These peaches are not the same as a warm-off-the-tree late August fresh peach, but are absolutely acceptable for “fresh-frozen” eating. They are different in texture than syrup-canned peaches, which seem to firm up in the jar, and the softer texture will not be everyone’s cuppa tea. I’d recommend a trial of a few peaches to see how this technique works for you before committing to a hundred pounds of frozen peaches.

I will be freezing a bunch more peaches this way. It’s a great technique for our family.

What’s your favorite way to preserve peaches?

Pantry Ranting
I've Become The Weirdo Wasp Lady

Comments

  1. I wonder how well they'd travel in the frozen state. IE, toss a couple in a cooler in the car at the start of a road trip and let them slowly thaw until they make a nice cool and refreshing snack.

  2. The only way I ever preserve peaches if by freezing them (but sliced). We like them so much that way that it just seems wrong to do anything else.

    Technique:
    Peel and slice into a bowl. Toss gently with a little lemon juice and sugar. Continue until you run out of peaches or space in the bowl, adding a little more lemon juice as needed.

    Using a large spoon, spoon into small ziplock bags. I only put in enough for my DH and I to each have a small bowl when we eat them later. Squeeze air out of bag (I use a straw to help suck it out) and lay flat.

    Freeze flat as the frozen bags later will be easier to store in the freezer. I just stack them all up when frozen in a paper bag to keep them contained and easy to find.

    To eat:
    Defrost halfway. We like them best slightly icy. Could also be used in smoothies, pies, and cobbler.

    Possibly change:
    We're buying peaches this weekend and I'm going to freeze them without sugar this year. The lemon juice helps preserve the color so I will still use it.

    Additional note on freezing peaches:
    I received a bunch of damaged peaches, some not entirely ripe, from the organic garden where I volunteer. Because they couldn't be left to ripen without rotting due to the damage, I plan to cook them in a chutney recipe. However, I got them over several weeks so I froze each batch after cutting out the damaged part, peeling, tasting to be sure each overall peach was okay, and tossing with lemon juice. One of these days, I'll defrost them all and can some killer peach chutney.

    (Sorry for the super long comment.)

  3. Chile you can always comment as long as you want. I love your alternate freezing method- definitely more space efficient but also more labor intensive. Good for people to see how many ways they can make it work. :)

  4. I'm curious how many peaches are in 100 pounds!

  5. Kris Watson says:

    I have been freezing peaches to remove the skin for canning the past few years. I fill the sink up with hot water, dump in 40 or 50 peaches, and when they are thawed I start slipping the skins. Then I slice them, put them in jars, cover with warm syrup into which I have dissolved some vitamin C tablets, and water bath can them. I add five minutes to the timing to make up for not adding hot syrup. This will be the fourth year for this method.

    Also, if I am going to make jam with the peaches, after I peel them, I hold the piece of fruit over the kettle and squeeze off the flesh instead of cutting it. If needed, I use the immersion blender to break up big pieces. VERY fast.

  6. You kinda just blew my mind.

  7. Dang, I just wish I had the freezer space! I ordered peaches 2 weeks ago and canned 21 jars, first time ever! I actually really liked the feel of a warm skinless peach in my hand, all rosy and well… peachy. So the slices firm up in the can? I did some raw pack, and some hot pack (where you put them in syrup and heat to boiling before putting in jars). Is there a difference in firming up between these two methods? I'm peachy keen!

  8. I might try the method just for peeling and then can as usual. The normal boiling water/ice bath works OK for me. I just wish I had a great source of peaches like you do.

    I think I might try the above method too for sliced peaches someone mentioned. REady to eat…I still have a "college age" living at home and they need food whenever.

  9. I freeze smaller tomatoes (cherry types, roma, early girl, Mr. Stripey) this way when I have more than I can eat, have time to dry or have too few to can. Which lately is almost every summer, it seems. When I’ve spent the whole evening filling the dehydrator with sliced cherry tomatoes, have gifted to all friends and neighbors and still have bowls overflowing with little jewels, I rinse and freeze. Pop the solid marbles into a zip bag and they’re perfect for when I need just a few tomatoes for stir-fry, sauces, pasta or soups and don’t want to buy bland store tomatoes in winter. I hadn’t thought of this for stone fruit – I wonder if cherries and apricots would work similarly well? Just stumbled onto and am loving your blog!

    • Marlene M says:

      We put extra cherries in the freezer and just eat them frozen on hot summer days. Delicious and refreshing!I just throw in whole cherries, but you might want to pit them before you freeze them.

  10. Mary Frances says:

    My friend, Sophia, and I just did this with two bushels of San Marzano tomatoes – as I had read elsewhere on the web that it was a great way to preserve them and the skins would slip off (a la your peaches) when they were defrosted and ready to use in recipes in place of canned tomatoes. Looking forward to having a winter of stews/soups/pasta sauces without having to break out the can opener!

  11. Erica, I don’t know if you have a peach tree, but there’s something I learned about that you might-could benefit from.
    I was researching how to start a peach or nectarine tree from seed and every place I looked said to put the seed in the freezer or very cold refrigerator in some kind of germinating medium (wet towels, seed-starting mix) for a while (a few week to few months) until you see rootlets growing, then take the seed out and plant it in a pot.
    You can find the info easily enough, so it may be possible that you can use the seeds in those frozen peaches to plant peach trees.
    One caveat: If your peach is a hybrid variety or a from grafted tree, then the tree you grow most likely won’t match the fruit you got the seed from.
    The More You Know, right?
    Have fun with this! Ciao.

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