So, you order a case of peaches from a farm in the lower 48, but what do you do with all those little balls of gold?!?!?!
There are a few things you should know when you order and receive a case of peaches.
LET THEM RIPEN:
Your peaches are likely not ripe yet. You will need to let them ripen before you try to process them or the pits will stick and they won’t be nearly as flavorful.
Here’s how we ripen peaches at the farm:
When I was a little girl helping my mom and my Grannie can peaches, I remember going to the farm and picking the peaches, or picking up boxes we had preordered. As soon as we’d get home, the peaches would be carefully laid out on blanket covered tables in a single layer to ripen. They were always covered with a blanket or a towel so they could ripen in the dark.
Every morning, we’d check the peaches and pull out the ripe ones to process that day. Sometimes it was just a few so we’d make jam or peach butter. Sometimes it was a lot so we’d get out the canner and get to work!
The main thing to know is that you do need to let them fully ripen. Again, if you ordered canning peaches (which are also awesome for fresh eating), they are freestone but not until they are fully ripe. So if you try to process them too early, the flesh will stick to the pit which just makes them take so long to process! Also, the skin won’t come off very well if they are still a bit green. And lastly, the flavor won’t fully develop until they are all the way ripe.
NOTE: True canning peaches won’t get mushy as they ripen. That’s part of what makes a good canning peach like Red Haven, Elberta, and Veterans. They keep their shape and stay somewhat firm (yet not crunchy like an apple), even when processed ripe.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THEY ARE RIPE?
There are a couple of ways to know if your peaches are ripe.
- First, oh that smell! Your house will start to smell like a peach orchard as the peaches begin to ripen. It’s heavenly!
- The second way to know is by feel. Of course, they must be handled so very gently but you can feel them to see if they are softening up.
- Third (my favorite way) is to eat one! We have peaches for breakfast and again for dessert just about every day during peach season! Cut up a peach and cover it with whipping cream – my mouth is watering just thinking of it!
The thing about peaches is that they don’t really care about your timeline or schedule – so if you ordered very many you’re at their mercy until they are processed and put away. If you have a busy day coming up, that’s likely to be the day most of the peaches ripen. Haha! However, they can sometimes wait a day but not much more. That’s just the way of things.
There are endless ways to process your peaches. Around here we make peach freezer jam, regular canned peaches in a light sugar syrup and regular canned peaches in a honey syrup, and peach pie filling. Plus we freeze some in chunks. This year I’m also going to make a super light peach syrup to use to flavor some of our water kefir and jun (which is similar to kombucha except it’s made with green tea and honey). I’m also planning to make peach butter – just for fun. It sounds like it would be so good on hot-out-of the-oven sourdough bread, doesn’t it?
NOTE: Please don’t use corn starch or flour in your pie filling. Only use Clear Jel that is made for cooking – it’s the only one that stays liquid while hot which makes the canning process safe.
Here are a few links to our favorites:
Peach Pie Filling: https://practicalselfreliance.com/canning-peach-pie-filling/
Peach Butter: https://www.nutmegnanny.com/vanilla-honey-peach-butter/
Peach syrup – this is similar to the syrup I make to use for the second ferment of my Jun or water kefir. It also is very good on ice cream. 🙂 : https://www.thewoodgraincottage.com/canned-peach-syrup/
Happy Peach Processing!