Feature Articles: Cooking and Produce
Preserving Fresh Peaches
Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition Specialist, Cass
Who can resist a fresh, juicy peach? Let’s look at some tips
for buying great tasting fresh peaches and some ways you can
preserve this delicious fruit for a winter time treat!
- Is a peach nutritious?
Yes, peaches are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin, and soluble fiber. Peaches are also considered a diuretic and a mild laxative.
- Choosing the best.
There are two types of peaches: early peaches are clingstone (woody center pit adheres to flesh) and mid-summer peaches are freestone (woody pit falls out easily when fruit is cut in half). Clingstone peaches are more firm and better for canning. Freestone peaches are softer, juicer and more flavorful.
Peaches spoil very easily, even when unripe. Buy only what you can eat within a few days. Choose fragrant peaches that are unblemished and not too hard – they should yield slightly to pressure of a thumb. Avoid peaches with green coloring, as they were probably picked too early and won’t ripen properly. They will also be less sweet than peaches harvested when ripe, since peaches don’t get sweeter after they’re harvested, though fruit will become softer and juicer as it matures. Look for skins that show background color of yellow or cream – the amount of red or pink “blush” on the fruit depends on variety, and is not a reliable indicator of ripeness. Watch out for dark-colored, mushy, bruised peaches that are overripe and beginning to spoil. Tan circles or spots on the skin are early signs of decay.
Don’ t pack peaches too closely, to prevent them from spoiling and causing the other peaches to rot. Unripe peaches can be left to ripen at room temperature. This process can be hastened by placing them in a paper bag for a couple of days. Peaches will keep for 3-4 days at room temperature, and slightly longer in the refrigerator. Peaches taste best at room temp. Wash the fruit just before eating it.
Peaches peel more easily if blanched for 1 minute, then cool immediately in ice cold water to stop the effect of the heat…do not soak. The flesh of the peach tends to brown on contact with air. To prevent this , eat or cook the peach immediately, or sprinkle it with lemon or orange juice, or an ascorbic acid product.
You may raw or hot pack. For either method, peel peaches; cut in half and pit. Treat to prevent darkening. Make a light or medium syrup. For raw pack, keep syrup hot. Pack peaches in jars, pour hot syrup over peaches, leaving ½ inch headspace. For hot pack, cook peaches in syrup until peaches are hot throughout. Pack hot peaches and into jars, add hot syrup to cover, leaving a ½ inch headspace. For both methods, process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, in a boiling-water bath canner.
Select fully ripe fruit. Peel, pit and slice fruit. Treat to prevent darkening. Sugar pack: sprinkle fruit with desired amount of sugar; gently stir; allow fruit to stand until sugar dissolved; pack fruit into freezer container leaving ½ inch headspace. Syrup pack: Prepare a light, medium or heavy syrup of your choice. Add ½ cup syrup to freezer container, add sliced fruit and gently shake to pack fruit, leaving a ½ inch headspace.
Remove skin and pits. Cut into ½ inch slices or circles. Treat to prevent darkening. Dry at 130° until pliable with no moisture. Drying concentrates the nutients of the peach; dried peaches are rich in postassium and iron, as well those nutrients mentioned earlier in the article.
- Avoid eating the pit.
The kernel inside the pit is edible, but should be eaten only in small quantities, as it contains a toxic substance called hydrocyanic acid.
Try this great tasting dessert –it’s loaded with vitamins A
and C. It's also cholesterol free and low in sodium.
Shredded Wheat Peach Crisp
6 medium fresh peaches, peeled, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided ( could use artificial sweetener)
1/2cup pecans, toasted, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp minute tapioca
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 cups shredded wheat cereal, finely crushed
1/4 cup soft margarine, melted
- Mix peaches, 1/4 cup of the sugar, pecans, lemon juice, tapioca and spices in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix crushed cereal, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and margarine until well blended.
- Place peach mixture in increased 1-1/2-quart baking dish; sprinkle evenly with cereal topping.
- Bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes or until topping is browned
and peaches are tender.
Yield: 6 servings. Per serving: 250 calories, 8 grams of fat,
and 45 grams of carbohydrate
Sources: Visual Food Encyclopedia, Wellness Foods A to Z, Ball Blue Book of Preserving, American Diabetes Association website and MU Extension food preservation guidesheets.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009