Nothing says “summer” better than the juice of a fresh peach running down your chin! A round, sweet juicy stone fruit with a soft, fuzzy cream or yellow surface skin flushed with red. Perhaps the most celebrated of BC’s soft fruits is the peach, which has grown in the Okanagan since the 1890s. With all soft fruits thriving in heat, the southern Okanagan orchards are ideal growing conditions. This area is one of the few regions in the world this far north that successfully grows peaches.
How To Can Peaches
How To Freeze Peaches
Of the numerous peach varieties grown, they are usually grouped according to the way the flesh of the fruit is attached to its pit. You can choose from cling, semi-cling, or freestone varieties:
Clingstone The first half of the season brings us clingstone fruit, which make good eating, but are hard work if you’re interested in putting up preserves, since they have stones or pits that cling to a firm flesh. Regardless of ripeness, clingstone peaches require prying from the stone. The clingstone variety is best used to purée or dice.
Semi-cling Semi-freestones, smaller than freestones, are hybrids of both the clingstone and freestones. Its welcomed freestone characteristic is a stone that detaches quite easily from the flesh when completely ripened, which allows it to slice nicely. The secret behind the semi-cling’s succulent flavour is its stone. In fact, you’ll find some home canning with stones placed in the jar for added flavour enhancement.
Early Redhaven (available late July) ripens about 2 weeks earlier than its parent – Redhaven – exceeds it in flavour, and inherited all its outstanding features. This early, very attractive peach is cold hardy with brilliant red, semi-clingstone fruit that is firm and yellow fleshed. An incredible choice for fresh eating, pies, and similar uses.
Freestone Named after the ability of its flesh to easily separate from the pit. Later varieties are more often freestone, one of the most popular type of peach. These peaches tend to be more flavourful than the early clingstone varieties. Best served in appetizer trays, as sliced toppings on desserts, or for canning where attractive, uniform slices are desired.
Donut Peach What’s old is new again. Gaining lots of interest and attention is an heirloom fruit from China, the donut peach. This cake donut look-alike is the first flat, yellow-fleshed peach with classic peach colouring and flavour, sometimes with a hint of almond enhancement. The very sweet, juicy fruit is a flattened round with a dimpled center. Donut peaches tend to be tender, low in acid, and high in soluble solids with a pit about the size of a pistachio nut. They have a low acid to sugar ratio, so it is sweeter than the orange flesh variety. When selecting, seek those that are not too green, and are beginning to show the yellow red colouring.
Red haven (available early August) The most widely grown variety in BC. It has replaced Elberta as the standard to compare all peaches. Redhaven is usually freestone, although some seasons can raise pits that are a little “clingy.” It has a wonderful red color over a yellow background. This appealing fruit is medium in size, round with a prominent tip and is almost frees from fuzz. The melt-in your-mouth yellow flesh is firm, smooth and fine textured with a little red near the pit. It is juicy, sweet, and very tasty. Excellent for canning, though the redhaven variety is a pleasant selection for all purposes and has outstanding rich flavour when fresh or frozen. Ripens early in the season.
Glohaven (available mid to late August) is a large, nearly round, uniform peach with very little fuzz. Its skin color is mostly red with a golden background. The flesh is yellow and is preferred for canning and freezing because it resists browning. It ripens right on the heels of Redhaven.
Cresthaven peaches are a firm, yellow to red highly coloured variety for late season. The fruit is yellow-fleshed with considerable red colouring around the pit. While many varieties have better colour than cresthaven, its flavour is one of the best. Good for canning and freezing.
Savour our gorgeous local BC harvest from July to September. We can eat peaches year-round, thanks to imports from California, Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand. Peaches are picked at a mature state when the natural sugars have had a chance to develop and create, and continue to ripen when brought to warmer temperatures.
Let your nose be your guide: Peaches are a member of the rose family and their delightful, fragrant aroma tells you which ones to choose. Other indicators of ideal ripeness are the skin around the stem being completely yellow, a slightly soft or semi-firm red and yellow fruit with velvety skin. Avoid fruit that has a green hue or that feels very hard as well as bruises, since they can accelerate and reveal spoilage.
- One to 1 1/2 pounds of peaches will yield 1 pint of preserved peaches
- 20 pounds will yield 13 to 20 pints
- 35 pounds of peaches makes 17 very full canning quarts with approx. 28 cups water used for syrup
Store peaches unwashed. If you desire to ripen the fruit more fully, place them in a brown paper bag and fold closed. Keep at room temperature, checking them daily, as they ripen quickly. Store ripe fruit in a refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before eating to expose the full flavor and rinse thoroughly. Peel if desired.
The darkened red flesh, a common characteristic of the ‘cresthaven’ variety, which is attached to the large pit in the middle of the peach, is more bitter tasting than the yellow flesh around it. Hence, some recipes may suggest removing the red-fleshed area in the yellow-fleshed peach before it is prepared as an ingredient. Prevent browning of fresh cut peaches by dipping fruit into a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Peach skin can be removed by simply peeling with a small kitchen knife, but this method tends to waste much of the flesh of the peach. Blanching preserves the flesh of the peach:
Step 1 Cut a small slit in the upper dimple of the peach skin
Step 2 Bring a pot of water to a boil and keep it very hot. Meanwhile, set a large bowl or bucket in the sink and fill with cold water and some ice cubes.
With a slotted spoon, plunge fruit into boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds.
Step 3 Remove from the boiling water using aslotted spoon and put into a large bowl or pot of cold water and ice to stop the cooking process quickly. Remove after about 2 minutes – once they are cool enough to handle.
Step 4 Even if the fruit is a tad on the green side, the skin will slip off very easily. Otherwise, use a small paring knife to encourage its removal. Begin at the top of the peach and pull downward.
~ The Microwave ~ An Alternative Peeling Method
Try loosening the peel with the microwave at full power for 15 seconds, allowing the peach to stand for 2 minutes before peeling.
To Prevent Browning
Peaches will turn brown when exposed to air, even air in a sealed, sterile jar. To keep the fruit from turning brown, use one of the following methods to prevent discolouration:
- Lemon Juice: Slice peaches into a solution of 1 tablespoon lemon juice per quart of water.Then stir the peach slices to ensure all the surfaces have been coated
- Fruit Fresh or Ever-Fresh: These commercial antioxidants are a combination of ascorbic, citric acid, Vitamin C and sugar. Please follow the manufacturers’ instructions
- Ascorbic Acid: Also known as Vitamin C. It is water-soluble and helps prevent the fruit from turning brown in colour.
Syrup Pack Options
- Sugar content in the syrup will depend on the tartness of the fruit and your taste.
- About 1/2 to 2/3 cups of syrup is needed for each pint of peaches. Fruits packed in syrup are generally more satisfactory for uncooked desserts, fruit cocktail and sauces.
- More than 3 cups sugar to 1 quart water makes most fruit too sweet. Less than 1 cup sugar to 1 quart of water is seldom satisfactory. Use sugar and water in the following proportions for the various types of syrup:
- You may replace about 1/4 of the sugar with corn syrup or honey. Higher proportions will give the peaches a very different flavor. The combination of corn syrup and sugar will not be as sweet. Honey has a definite flavor.
- Either add the sugar to cold water and stir until it is completely dissolved, or heat the syrup to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil. Chill the hot syrup thoroughly before using. Keep syrup refrigerated until used.
- TRADITIONAL SYRUP PACK: In a bowl, for every four cups of peaches, combine 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid and 1/4 cup of cold water. Mix well but gently to prevent mashing or bruising.
- DRY SUGAR PACK: Add 1 part sugar (by weight) to 4 or 5 parts fruit (by weight) to sweeten the peaches and protect their quality. The amount of sugar needed will vary with the tartness of the fruit and your taste. Use one cup of simple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid for every four cups of peaches.
- Cut the peaches into a shallow bowl. Mix the sugar and peaches gently with a large spoon until the juice is drawn and the sugar is dissolved.
- UNSWEETENED PACK: Unsweetened peaches can be used in pies, for jams and preserves, and other cooked dishes.
- Slice or crush the peaches in their own juice. Be aware that changes in colour, flavour and texture occur more rapidly in an unsweetened pack than in fruits packed with sugar or syrup.
- JUICE OR WATER PACK: Mix two cups of water, peach, apple or white grape juiceand 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid for every four cups of peaches
- Note: 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid equals 1,500 milligrams in tablet form
Removing the Pit
Step 1 Begin at the stem of the peach, cut lengthwise around the perimeter (follow the natural indentation) down to the pit using a small kitchen knife.
Make a slice around the entire perimeter of the peach.
Step 2 Twist the peach halves in opposite direction until they separated from each other.
Step 3The pit will remain in one half of the peach when they are separated.
Step 4 Remove the pit using a knife or your fingers to pry it loose from the center of the peach. Now you are ready to enjoy!
|Click here to see the step-by-step process.|
|Click here to see the step-by-step process.|
Peaches are a popular fruit used for many purposes, such as in desserts, pies, puddings, cobblers, shortcakes, salads, as breakfast toppings, for canning and just to enjoy eaten fresh out of the hand. Peaches work well as the single fruit in cobblers, pies, turnovers, crepes, sorbets, soufflés, jams or jellies, marinades, and juiced. Here are some more mouth-watering suggestions to try:
- Slice to eat fresh
- Can – Ralph’s loyal customers can hardly wait for canning season!
- Boil then simmer – The natural sugars are released, creating a delectable glaze.
- Poach – Peach Melba is the crowning glory
- Broil to serve with meats
- Dry – They have a sweet tart flavour
- Cook – Spiced peaches make an excellent side dish with winter meals.
- Grill – For the summer, grill fresh peaches, nectarines, or apricots to make a savoury and decorative accompaniment to any meal.
- Freeze – pureed, sliced, or cubed
- Blended for fruit drinks or sauces; used for jams, pie filling or cobbler, yogurt topping or pureed flavouring, topping for ice-cream, or baby food. Make up batches of refreshing smoothies. Be creative-most fresh fruits blend beautifully!
Measurement Hint A pound of peaches is equivalent to approximately 4 medium whole peaches, 2 cups peeled and sliced, or 1 1/2 cups puréed.
To Bake a Peach
1. Preheat oven to 350º F
2. Follow procedure to remove pit (leave skins on to retain shape of peach)
3. Place peaches on an ungreased baking sheet with the cut side facing up
4. Place a teaspoon of butter in center of each peach half (optional)
5. Place 2-3 tablespoons of water into baking pan
6. Bake peaches in preheated oven until peaches are soft with slight browning, 15-30 minutes
Peaches are 89% water and are one of the lowest-calorie fruits, with virtually no fat, sodium, or cholesterol. Rich in iron and potassium, also contain vitamins C and A. The fruit has a diuretic and gentle laxative effect, and adds colour to the complexion. Ranking high in some types of phytochemicals, research also indicates that peaches have antioxidant activity.
Peach, 1 large (raw)
Total Fat: 0.14g
*Good source of: Vitamin C & A (10.3mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
- The infamous Peach Melba was created in the late 1800s by the celebrated French chef Escoffier for Dame Nellie Melba, a popular Australian opera singer. The same chef created Melba toast, a toast that is extremely thin and dry.
- Peaches are believed to be native to the Orient. The ancient Chinese first cultivated peaches as early as tenth century BC. The Chinese have long revered the peach as a symbol of long life and immortality, and still celebrate the blossoming of the peach tree as a sign and symbol of spring, the season of renewal and growth. To this day, they give and receive a peach on special occasions.
- Brides in some countries wear wreaths of peach blossom, just as Western brides wear orange blossom; it still symbolizes virginity and fertility.
- Carried to western Asia by caravans, the news traveled about the sweet, velvety peaches. Persia’s climate provided exceptional growing conditions for peaches, hence the name (prunus persica). By 140 BC, peaches had travelled to the Mediterranean, particularily Rome and Greece. In 65 BC, the Roman emperor Pompey introduced peach trees peach orchards rapidly increased throughout Western Europe. Eventually peaches reached northern Europe, enjoyed but not grown due to an incompatible climate.
- Flat peaches originated in China, simply called Chinese flat peaches, peento peach, or Chinese saucer peach. First grown in the U.S. in the 1800’s fell out of favour, more than likely due to its white flesh, since the early fruit breeders routinely discarded those with pale flesh. Originally the flat varieties had no special names. Then in Austailia they’ were named saucer peaches. Modern day marketing gurus knew that a catchier name was required. A marketing campaign was a success when introducing the name ‘donut peach’. They’re grown commercially in Central California and Washington.
- A stone fruit is a single seed enclosed in a protective layer called a pit. The yellow flesh that we eat is the pulp that protects and nurtures the young seed.
- The life span of a peach orchard is 15 to 20 years.