I can’t say my very classic New England Childhood was filled with memories of peach trees. No, it was more the “fall, apples and pumpkins” kind of childhood and it’s no wonder I’m such a downright romantic about autumn because of it. That being said, our next door neighbors planted a small peach orchard at the back of their vegetable garden. Veggie gardens were a very common thing in our little town of Sterling (home of the famed “Mary Had A Little Lamb” namesake, Mary Sawyer) and we had our places we went for apple picking, but peaches seemed a bit out of place to me. Nonetheless, as my neighbor Bob didn’t prune his peach trees, one year he was veritably swimming in peaches! I’ve since learned that if you don’t prune your fruit trees, they have huge bumper years and then they will take a year or two off and pump out fruit like mad again a few years later. The most important thing I learned from this was very simple though; you can grow peaches in New England.
Matt is probably one of the biggest peach fans I’ve ever met. While I prefer nectarines, that man nearly swoons over a good fresh, ripe peach. I can’t say I blame him, and when the peaches are good, they are GOOD. Like sigh, eyes roll to the back of your head kind of good. The problem is, they are only good and in season for a very short time. So what’s one to do? Why enjoy the heck out of them while they are here, and be sure to preserve the rest.
While there are numerous ways to preserve a fruit harvest, juicing, canning, jams, I find the very best way to preserve the taste of that summer gold, is to freeze. In the following sections I’ll provide you with links to several recipes for other methods, but here’s how I make sure I can enjoy these summer treasures, all year long.
Check out a grilled Peach, Prosciutto and Burrata Salad recipe below!
How to Freeze Fresh Peaches
Harvest & Check for Ripeness: The first thing you want to do is make sure they are fully ripe. The fruit should be harvested by pulling straight down and not give too much resistance. Gently squeeze the fruit to check for ripeness. It should give slightly to pressure all around and smell very strongly of peach. Once harvested, give a gentle wash and allow to dry thoroughly.
Cut & Remove Pit: As long as the peach is fully ripe, this next step should be easy. Using a paring knife, cut around the peach all the way down to the pit, and alongside the slight ridge in the fruit. This will ensure you’re cutting along the flattest side of the pit, making it easier to pull apart.
Cut & Arrange: cut the peaches into thick slices, and arrange on a small sheet pan. We often have several sheet pans going in our freezer all summer long. As things become ripe like blueberries, aronias and raspberries, we simply throw the day’s harvest on the pan.
Freeze: Once you’re done arranging the slices in a single layer, Place the sheet pan in the freezer and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.If you have a deep freezer or power freeze button this is a great time to use it. By flash freezing individual slices, it locks in the flavor, and allows you to toss them into a bag without them sticking together. Place in a sealable bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
Great! Now you have a freezer full of peaches, but what to do with them? The uses of fresh or frozen peaches are honestly endless. Here are some ideas
- Peach juice
- Peach syrup with water and sugar added
- Infusions in teas, waters and high proof alcohol (it’s great with bourbon!)
- Pies, cobblers and baked oatmeals
I thoroughly enjoy throwing them in the blender with some mint and water and making a little peach refresher. They also make a perfect addition to a smoothie, especially alongside some vanilla yogurt for a peaches and cream style smoothie. You can also toss them into a pie shell any time of year or top them with butter, sugar and oats for a luscious scoop of peach cobbler. I also love to blend it up into juice and pour a little champagne over the top for a perfectly refreshing Bellini.
Here are some great recipes to make all your peachy dreams come true:
- Peach Cobbler from Tastes Better From Scratch
- Creamy Peach & Honey Popsicles by Cookie + Kate
- Peach Smoothie by Well Plated
- Homemade Peach Pie Filling by Homemade in the Kitchen
- Peach Jam by Barefeet in the Kitchen
- Peach-Bourbon Jam by Epicurious
- Fresh Peach Bellini by Ina Garten
- Peach Hand Pies by Saving Room for Dessert
- Bourbon-Peach Smash by Striped Spatula
Fresh peaches are also incredibly good on the grill! Toss into a savory dish or with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, they are equally delicious. While my Cookbook has several recipes for peaches, and grilled ones at that, here is great savory use for fresh peaches alongside some salty prosciutto and creamy fresh burrata. It’s a quick and easy summer meal made entirely on the grill, straight from my cookbook.
Grilled Peach, Prosciutto and Burrata Salad
A gluten free recipe
- 4 fresh peaches, cut in half, pit removed
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- 4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
- 8 oz. of burrata cheese
- 8 oz. of mixed baby greens
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic glaze
- Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.
- Brush peaches with canola oil on both sides, and place inside down, grilling, undisturbed for 4-5 minutes. At the same time place the prosciutto bundles on the grill. Flip them both after 4-5 minutes and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Lift carefully and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, whisk the olive oil in until combined. Add the lettuce and toss gently.
- Arrange the dressed salad onto a large platter. Arrange the peaches and prosciutto on top of the salad. Gently pull the burrata part and arrange on the edges of the salad. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the top and serve immediately.
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