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Peachy Keen

My grandmother instilled in me the love of food and family. She was a great baker and an okay cook. There were dishes that she was great at, and she tended to stick to those. She knew how to be creative in the kitchen and how to make the best of what she was able to buy. Feeding 11 kids (plus herself and her husband) on a single income salary was not easy. They grew what they could in their garden and picked what they could from their fruit trees. She made bread by hand often; the house always smells of something delicious.

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From my grandfather, I gained both an appreciation for and love of complex carbohydrates. Bread and butter are staples with any meal, and fruit is the best dessert you could ever want. His very favorite kind of fruit: peaches.

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I always love the smell of peaches, and as a teenager, I enjoyed getting peach mango smoothies from our local coffee shop, but I never ate the fruit alone. There was too much going on with the fuzziness of the skin and the fear of breaking a tooth on that giant pit in the middle. I didn’t know what I was missing. After my grandfather died, I had the strong urge to try a lot of the things that he loved as a way of honoring his memory. I started with peaches.

When I first saw the advertisement for The Peach Truck on Facebook, I simply scrolled past it thinking that it couldn’t possibly be any good. After all, most of what is advertised on Facebook seem to be cheapie shops of dresses from China that don’t look anything like what you imagined when they finally arrive. So why should I trust an online advertisement for “fresh fruit”?

But last year I took a chance and went to the Wildwood Market in Indianapolis to pick up some freestone peaches from The Peach Truck. I ended up picking up three crates: one for me and two for friends who also were willing to take that gamble. The peaches smelled wonderful, but they were very hard. I called my mother-in-law to ask her what to do and how to best prepare these fruits for freezing or canning. I had never done anything of the sort before in my life. Canning scared the crap out of me, so I opted for freezing, which seemed less work. It’s definitely a labor of love, a process that takes a few hours. I have found that if I can get help from a friend, we can get all #25lbsofpeaches prepped and frozen in the time it takes us to watch the movie Grease as we work. (“Peachy keen, Jelly Bean.”) It takes even less time if you’re setting some aside to eat fresh.

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This year when I picked up my peaches, I had to wait in an hour long line because The Peach Truck Freestone Tour has become so popular. And it’s for good reason. If they come to your area, be sure to snag a box, and be prepared for delicious fruit for many months to come if you choose to freeze them.

Freezing Peaches

The Peach Truck sets up camp all around Nashville, Tennessee from Mid-May to Mid-August for those who are local to that area. Being from Indiana, I wasn’t about to drive that far, so I was happy that they made several stops around where I live. The peaches that tour the midwest do so in a refrigerated truck, which keeps them fresher longer. The fresher they are, the harder they are, and they soften when left at room temperature. You have to wait until the peaches are fragrant and a little soft but not squishy. If brown, squishy spots appear, you can easily cut them out and continue to use the rest of the fruit without issue. It’s best to lay them out so that they aren’t touching each other on a table or on top of a sheet on your washing machine or something. This way, they ripen evenly instead of mainly where they touch each other.

Once the peaches are ready to be prepared, they need to be boiled for one minute and then eased gently into an ice water bath to cool.

This is called blanching. It helps to remove the skin from the rest of the fruit.

Once this has been done, you can easily rub your thumb along the side of the peach, and easily peel off the skin without taking the fleshy fruit with it. (It’s an oddly satisfying sensation- kind of like peeling dead skin from a sunburned shoulder.) It’s easy to knock any remaining parts of the stem off at this time as well.

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Then, you can easily use your thumb to simply halve the peach and pull the pit out.

Put the halves or pieces in a bowl.

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Once the bowl is full, you can sprinkle Fruit Fresh (ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) found at most grocery stores in the baking aisle near the canning supplies) overtop to prevent the peaches from browning so that they maintain their beautiful golden peach or rosy color.

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Then simply add sugar to taste (throw in a half cup, mix, taste, repeat to your preference of sweetness) and mix and slightly mash. You can choose to mash them into small pieces, or you can leave them in larger chunks; it’s totally your preference.

Once the mixture is mixed and has been tasted to know that it’s at the right sweetness for your palette, all you have to do is pour the mixture into quart size freezer bags and put them in the freezer flat to freeze evenly.

I use quart size freezer bags because that tends to provide the right amount of peaches that we want to serve with the meal. This serves around 3 to 4 people, but that’s only if everyone only wants one serving. If you have a larger family, obviously freeze them in gallon size freezer bags. If you are a singleton, you can freeze half the amount in the quart size bags. No matter what, they do need to be the freezer bag quality so they don’t leak or develop frost.

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If you choose to eat them fresh after you’ve prepared them, they’re delicious over ice cream.

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I’ve compiled my favorite peach recipes here on a Pinterest board for you. You can also make peach simple syrup, peach ice cream, peach compote, or even peach butter (which takes more time but is totally worth the effort). They are also delicious tossed into a smoothie, or you can take your frozen peaches and thaw them slightly for a delicious icy treat. (That’s my husband’s favorite way to eat them- partially still frozen almost like a sorbet but better.) You can also throw them in the blender with sweetened condensed milk to create a true sorbet. They also make a delightful addition to iced or sweet tea instead of ice cubes (adding flavor instead of watering down the tea). They are also amazing halved and cooked on the grill, especially when served with chicken or pork. Or you can simply peel the peaches and eat them fresh.

The Peach Truck provides countless recipes on their website (like Peach-Stuffed French Toast and Sparkling Peach Sangria- mmmmm) and even more gloriously juicy recipes and info on their Pinterest page, and if you sign up for their email list, you get them right to your inbox.

Taking the time to savor the sweet, juicy flavor of peaches will always remind me of my grandfather, and putting in the labor of love prepping and freezing peaches each year will always be reminiscent of the love my mother in law and grandmother put into the foods they prepped each season for their families as I am for mine. I’m so glad to have this new tradition added to my summer kitchen, and I hope you’ll add it to yours too.

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If you don’t have access to The Peach Truck locally, they do deliver “from the orchard to your porch,” and you can order online here! You can also simply look for local produce stands in your area, farmers markets, or if you’re in the south, you probably have the best access to local peaches at an orchard!

Happy peach prepping, mamas!

**All opinions regarding The Peach Truck and its products are 100% my own. I was not compensated in any form for recommending them or trying them. This was purely from my own research and experience.**

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