How to Preserve Peaches

How to Preserve Peaches

How to Preserve Peaches

When summer arrives, the peak season for fresh local peaches begins. People scramble to enjoy as many farm-fresh peaches as they can before the final harvest. But what if there was a way to enjoy this scrumptious seasonal fruit all year long? With various preservation techniques, you can enjoy your peaches for months or even years. 

This guide includes the best methods to preserve your harvest so you can enjoy the classic taste of peaches any time of year. 

7 Ways to Preserve Peaches

There are many ways to preserve peaches. Each method is unique, but they all start with fresh, fully-ripened peaches. Collect a bounty of mouthwatering peaches, setting a few aside to enjoy fresh from the orchard. Then, you can use the following techniques to preserve the rest of your harvest: 

1. Canning 

Canning is one of the most effective ways to maintain the flavor and texture of your fresh Georgia peaches. You probably have most of the supplies in your kitchen, but you'll also need clean jars with lids and rings, a water bath canner and a jar lifter. 

Once you've gathered these materials, you can start the canning process. The raw pack method helps prevent the peaches from becoming too soft. It includes these basic steps:

  1. Blanch your peaches so you can easily remove the skin. Prepare a pot of boiling water and an ice bath. Using a knife, gently score an "X" shape at the base of your peaches and place them a few at a time into the boiling water. After 10-30 seconds, remove the peaches and put them in the ice water. When they're cool enough to handle, the skin should slide right off. 
  2. Cut the peaches to your desired size. You can preserve your peaches in halves, slices or cubes. Pack your fruit into the jar and set it aside. 
  3. Prepare your hot liquid. You can use boiling water, simple syrup or fruit juice — apple or white grape juice works well. If you choose to make the syrup, use 1 cup of white sugar per quart of water. You can add more or less sugar to achieve your desired sweetness. 
  4. Using the funnel, pour the boiling hot liquid over the raw peaches, leaving 1/2 an inch of space at the top of the jar. Secure the lids tightly. 
  5. Process the jars of peaches in a water bath canner using the manufacturer's instructions. It usually takes 25-30 minutes.
  6. Once they've cooled, store your canned peaches in a cool, dark and dry place until you're ready to enjoy them.

The finished product is sweet and delicious, just like a freshly picked peach. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Center for Home Food Preservation agree that home-canned foods should be used within one year. If you eat all of your canned peaches too quickly, you can always order more jar peaches from Lane Southern Orchards. Choose from regular, spiced or pickled peaches for that classic summertime taste no matter the season.

2. Making Peach Spreads

Making peach jam, jelly, preserves and fruit butter is a delicious way to preserve your summer harvest. You can find countless recipes to make these spreads. However, most of them contain a variation of the same ingredients — peaches, sugar, lemon juice and pectin. The main difference is the consistency of the peaches and the proportion of ingredients.

  • Peach jam: This sweet, sticky spread is a classic breakfast-time treat on toast and English muffins. Peach jam is made with crushed fruit creating a smooth spread with a delicate peach pulp. Some recipes rely on the natural pectin in the peaches, while others require additional pectin to thicken the jam.
  • Peach jelly: Instead of using the whole fruit, jelly is made from peach juice. It's a transparent, golden spread with little to no peach flesh. Pectin is typically used to create a firm texture. Peach jelly is sweet and delicious on fresh bread and crackers with cream cheese.
  • Peach preserves: This spread is similar to jam, except you make it with larger chunks of fruit. Instead of crushing the fruit, you chop the peaches into small pieces. Some recipes use pectin to thicken the spread. Making preserves is a great way to use firm or slightly underripe peaches. Peach preserves typically contain less sugar, and you can enjoy them on yogurt, ice cream and even meat for a burst of fruity flavor. 
  • Peach butter: Fruit butter is made without pectin, so it's less sticky than jams and jellies. It often contains added spices like cinnamon. The peaches are cooked down to a thick consistency and strained to remove large pieces of pulp. Some people use an immersion blender or food processor to achieve a smoother puree. Peach butter is delicious on waffles and pancakes or baked into fresh cinnamon rolls and muffins.

Once you've chosen your favorite recipe, you can follow the directions until the spread is complete. Store your fresh peach treats in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for several months. If you want your spreads to last longer, you can use a water bath canner to seal your jars. Home-canned jams and jellies will last in your pantry for up to a year, retaining the same freshness and flavor as the day you made them.

3. Creating Salsa 

Have you ever tried peach salsa? While it may seem like an interesting combination, a burst of tangy-sweet peaches is a delicious addition to savory salsas. There are many variations to this recipe, with unique flavor combinations and spice levels. Add mango and pineapple for a fruity blend or mix in jalapeño for a spicy kick. Peach salsa tastes delicious when piled on top of tortilla chips, salads, roasted chicken or fish tacos.

Make your favorite salsa recipe in bulk and preserve it with a water bath canner, so it lasts all year. Simply combine the ingredients in a large pot and boil them until you achieve your desired thickness. When it's finished cooking, transfer your salsa into hot, clean jars. Wipe the jar with a clean cloth before screwing on the lid. Follow the directions on your canner to seal your jars. It usually takes about 15-25 minutes, depending on your altitude.

4. Cooking Syrup 

Another versatile recipe that's perfect for canning is homemade peach syrup. Drizzle it over warm buttermilk pancakes or creamy vanilla ice cream — all it takes to make this fruity syrup is sugar, water and peaches. You can also add a dash of citric acid or lemon juice to help preserve the vibrant color. There are different recipes with varying amounts of sugar.

Most recipes include a variation of the following steps:

  1. Cut your peaches in half to remove the pit and slice them into small pieces. 
  2. Combine water and sugar in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Stir in your peaches and continue boiling until the sugar dissolves completely. If your recipe calls for citric acid or lemon juice, you can add it with the peaches. 
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes. Your mixture will thicken and become infused with peach flavor.
  4. Carefully pour the hot syrup through a fine strainer or sieve to remove the peach pulp. Use extreme caution to avoid burning your hands. Reheat the mixture on the stove for a few minutes before pouring it into your jars.
  5. Pour your finished syrup into clean, hot jars and attach the lids. Process them in your water bath canner according to the instructions. It should take about 10-20 minutes.

Home-canned peach syrup will last on your shelves for up to a year. If you eat through your stash, you can always replenish your pantry with Lane Southern Orchard's old-fashioned country syrups. Our farm-fresh southern peach and peach cobbler syrups add a burst of sweet, fruity flavor to any recipe.

5. Freezing 

Freezing is one of the easiest methods for preserving peaches. If you have room in your freezer and some plastic containers or storage bags, you can freeze your harvest. Depending on your needs, you can customize the process slightly, like peeling the skin or adding sugar before freezing. The freezing process can be better than canning because it's very easy.

Here's the basic process you should follow:

  1. Rinse your peaches in cold water and dry them off gently. If you want to remove the skin, they're easier to peel before freezing. Cut the peach in half and remove the pit. Then, slice each half three or four times to your desired size.
  2. To prevent browning, you can dip your peaches in a mixture of water and lemon juice.
  3. If you want to preserve your peaches in sweet syrup, mix the slices with your desired amount of sugar. After a few minutes, the sugar will draw juice from the peaches to make a delicious glaze. Put the mixture in a container and freeze it immediately. To freeze plain peaches, spread your slices across a baking sheet and place them in the freezer uncovered for several hours. When they're completely frozen, simply move them to an air-tight container and put them back in the freezer.
  4. Remember to label the bag and include the date. Stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below, frozen peaches will last 8-12 months.

6. Dehydrating 

If you have the equipment, dehydrating your peaches is another easy way to preserve your harvest. It's an excellent method to preserve peaches that are slightly overripe and too soft for canning. Dried peaches are sweet and delicious like candy, but they contain healthy vitamins and nutrients. They're delicious on their own or baked into your favorite recipes.

Dehydrators are an investment, but they can last for years and preserve many different foods. Follow these steps to dehydrate your peaches: 

  1. Cut your peaches as evenly as possible into thin slices.
  2. If you want your peaches to maintain their color, you can try various pretreatment methods before drying your fruit.
  3. Place the slices on the tray or mesh insert from your dehydrator. 
  4. Dry them according to the instructions included with your machine. It can take anywhere from several hours to a few days, depending on the thickness of your slices and the moisture level of your fruit.
  5. Remove your slices from the dehydrator and place them in an air-tight and moisture-proof container.

Dried peaches last longer when you store them in a cool, dry and dark place. Most dehydrated fruits are good for one year at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or six months at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Freeze Drying

Similar to dehydrators, freeze dryers can preserve peaches by removing their moisture. However, the process is unique and produces different results. While freeze dryers are more expensive than dehydrators, they pull out more water, so your dried food lasts longer. Freeze drying is more effective at preserving the original color, appearance and nutritional value of your food.

You can prepare your peaches for freeze drying the same way as you would for dehydrating. Follow the drying and packaging directions included with your machine. When freeze-dried fruit is processed and stored correctly, it can last several years.

What Is the Best Way to Preserve Peaches?

The best method to extend the life of your harvest depends on many factors:

  • How long you want them to last: Depending on the method you choose, you can extend the life of your peaches by a few weeks, months or years. Freeze-dried peaches will last for decades, while frozen peaches may not last an entire year.
  • How many peaches you're storing: If you only have a few pounds of peaches, you can choose almost any method to preserve them. However, if you're storing an entire bushel, you may not have enough room in your freezer. When you preserve your harvest with multiple techniques, you can enjoy your peaches in many ways.
  • How you plan to use them: Some preservation techniques change the texture and flavor of your peaches. If you want your peaches to taste the same as the day you picked them, canning or freezing are the best methods.
  • How much time and effort you want to spend: Some preservation methods take more time, effort and supplies than others. If you want to keep it simple, try freezing your peaches. Dehydrating and freeze drying are also pretty easy if you're willing to invest in the necessary equipment.

Enjoy Fresh Southern Peaches All Year Long 

The key to enjoying delicious preserved peaches all year long is starting with farm-fresh fruit from your local orchard or farmer's market. At Lane Southern Orchards, you'll find Georgia's finest peaches throughout June and July. You can visit our roadside market or have your harvest delivered right to your door. We ship our peaches within hours of picking them

If peach season is a few months away, you can always shop our selection of preserved peaches and other delicious treats online. We have a wide selection of syrups, fruit spreads, salsas and even baked goods made with fresh ingredients from our farm. Fill up your cart with delicious peach products today! 


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