Farmer’s Market Find: Peaches, and How to Freeze Them.

While Louisiana grows some pretty awesome peaches, they are very hard to come by.

Fresh Alabama peaches from the farmer's market.

Fresh Alabama peaches from the farmer’s market.

When I was a kid, every Memorial Day weekend we’d travel from Southwest Louisiana to East Texas, traveling through the very top northwest corner if Louisiana.

Hopefully, we’d see someone selling something out of the back of their truck or front yard stand. If we were lucky, they’d have Ruston peaches. And hopefully, whoever was driving would stop and buy a little basket (or two) of peaches.

Louisiana peaches are the smaller, early-ripening peaches, very juicy and sweet when ripe.

While you may find roadstands across the state selling Plaquemine parish satsumas, oranges, and meyer lemons, Ponchatoula strawberries, Creole tomatoes, Washington parish watermelons or even Louisiana sweet potatoes, I rarely ever (if ever) have seen Louisiana peaches outside of that small area. And, I do stop for produce roadstands, much to the dismay of my daughter.

So, fortunately, we are lucky enough to have a couple of wonderful ladies who bring peaches from Alabama every single summer to our little farmer’s market.  They also bring some plums, tomatoes, and later on, freshly shelled pecans.  Sometimes, you may be lucky enough to score a bag of freshly hulled purple hull peas that they’ve got stored in a little ice chest.

Me?  I just go for the peaches.  For all the summer fruits and vegetables I love, my husband pretty much only loves the peaches.

So, every two weeks, I stop by the market and pick up one of their medium sized baskets, and set them out carefully on a tray when I get home.  We eat the ripest few during the week, but the remainder may take till the next weekend to be soft and sweet.  Then, I turn on the hot water in the sink, and rinse the peaches in the hottest water.  This washes away the dust and fuzz, and also helps to loosen the skin for easier peeling.

What?  No hot water/cold water shock treatment?  (aka blanching).  Waiting for a big pot of water to boil, and making enough ice to shock them?  Well, maybe if I was doing a half a case or more of peaches, but for 15 peaches – the hot water from the sink is usually just hot enough to loosen the skin.  Much simpler.  And, almost as effective.  Just remember to cut the little x on the bottom before, just like you would with tomatoes.

Here's what you need to freeze your peaches - lightly blanched peaches, knife, and a bowl with a little orange juice to prevent browning, and a tray lined with foil, waxed paper, or plastic wrap for easier removal and transfer to a freezer bag.

Here’s what you need to freeze your peaches – lightly blanched peaches, knife, and a bowl with a little orange juice to prevent browning, and a tray lined with foil, waxed paper, or plastic wrap for easier removal and transfer to a freezer bag.

 

Peach slices layed out to get perfectly frozen slices.  Freezing them individually like this keeps them much easier to use the quantity you need for just one smoothie, or a whole peach cobbler.

Peach slices layed out to get perfectly frozen slices. Freezing them individually like this keeps them much easier to use the quantity you need for just one smoothie, or a peach cobbler.

I let the peaches freeze overnight, and then carefully (and quickly) transfer them to a freezer bag.  If they start to melt, they will stick together again.  This is why I only buy what is usually one tray’s worth at a time.

Also, be aware that peach varieties have different ripening times.  The earlier ripening ones are t these small cling stone peaches.  The fruit clings to the seed inside.  These are smaller peaches, and I find that they are sweeter and juicier to eat out of hand, and a little hard to prepare for freezing.  By now, they should have the larger cling free peaches, which are not quite as juice or sweet (there are exceptions, of course, but generally…) and they are much easier to prepare for the freezer since the fruit easily separates.  It is at at the end of summer when I usually stock up on the peaches for the freezer.

 

 

 

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