There is absolutely nothing like the fresh taste of peaches in the dead of winter. And the best way to get that taste is to learn how to freeze fresh peaches when they are in season in your own area.
Prepping the Peaches: Whether picking the peaches from your own trees or purchasing them from an orchard or market, you'll want to freeze high-quality fruit. Sweet fruit is the best type of fruit for freezing, and even then you may want to add a sweetener to get the best results.
To get a ballpark figure of how many peaches you'll need, think in terms of quart sizes. About six medium peaches are equal to one quart. Pick firm but ripe fruit. Green peaches or hard peaches will result in soft, mushy peaches that will never develop the taste and texture of tree-ripened fruit, no matter how much sugar you add to the mix.
Making Syrup: Since fruit tends to lose a bit of its sweetness when frozen, adding a bit of syrup to the mix will help the flavor. This sweet liquid, a natural preserver, also helps keep the fruit from becoming frostbitten. Not only will a sugar-based liquid help retain the color and the shape of the fruit, but it will also add to the sweetness of the fruit.
Here are suggestions for making syrup, depending on your tastes:
Remember that, if you choose to keep your peaches as natural as possible, you do not have to add sugar or any other sweetener. The fruit will be softer, may darken and may be a little sour, but you can rest assured that you are eating 100 percent natural fruit and nothing but the fruit.
The Freezing Process: After selecting the best fruit, if you are using syrup, prepare it now, and set it on the stove to heat while you prepare the fruit. The peaches must be washed, scalded and then peeled. To remove the skins, boil water and dip the peaches for 30 to 40 seconds. Immediately remove the peaches, and then dip them into ice cold water for two to three minutes. The skins will slide off easily.
As you cut the peaches and remove the stones, you may want to sprinkle a bit of lemon juice into the bowl to keep the fruit from browning. Mix in the juice to make sure all surfaces of the peaches are covered.
Since a combination of the air and the enzymes in the fruit causes peaches to oxidize and turn brown, you can cut and quarter the peaches right into freezer bags, add one cup of liquid (or not), and seal the bag immediately. To remove as much of the air as possible, insert the end of a drinking straw into the corner of the zippered bag, and place the other end in your mouth. Suck the air out, and immediately zip the bag.
Lay the peaches on a flat surface in the freezer so that they freeze in a relatively flat state. Once they are frozen the bags can be stacked. The peaches should last up to one year in the freezer, but freezer burn and spoilage may still occur. Check on them often.
Attention cooks: beware of the dreaded freezer burn. Keep close track of what you have because you don't want to open up a meal for reheating only to discover that it is inedible.
If you're tired of one bad apple spoiling the whole bushel, consider learning how to freeze apples. That way, you can enjoy the fruit all year long.