Putting Up an Abundance of Peaches: An Illustrated Overview


| 9/6/2019 10:24:00 AM


 

This has been a banner year for our peach (and apple) trees. I called UCONN’s cooperative extension service when this same scenario happened back in 2015 to ask why, and this is what was explained. Warm and sunny spring weather encourages bees to actively pollinate fruit blossoms. A dry summer with plenty of sunny days helps the fruit to grow well. In addition, dry weather discourages the growth of powdery mildew and other fungal infections. In other words, this summer we’ve had perfect peach (and apple) growing weather in our zone 5b Connecticut location.

Our four peach trees produced several bushels over the course of three weeks, so I had to get busy putting up these juicy, sweet delights before they spoiled. The first thing I did was refrigerate approximately a bushel to buy some time. We have two dorm-sized spare refrigerators available for moments like this. The rest I put up as quickly as possible before returning to the chilled peaches.

I filled our Excalibur dehydrator a few times with peeled 1/4-inch-thick slices. Typical dehydrating instructions recommend pretreating fruit in citric acid, ascorbic acid, or lemon juice to prevent darkening. I always skip this step and still have good results. I prefer to store my dehydrated peaches in the freezer. After cooling the slices, I loosely pack them in mason jars, tighten the lids, then condition them at room temperature for a day before storing in the freezer (conditioning allows the remaining moisture to redistribute evenly). The slices are easy to remove from the jars when frozen in this way, and thaw within seconds. Dehydrated peach slices pack a sweet punch of peach flavor and are a delicious addition to oatmeal, breakfast quinoa, cold cereal, and plain yogurt. We also enjoy eating them right out of the jar.

 I used Pomona’s Universal Pectin to make twenty-one half-pints of low-sugar jam. I followed the instructions enclosed in the box of pectin but added the least amount of sugar suggested. The resulting jam has an explosion of peach flavor without being overly sweet.





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