Friday, August 15, 2008

I expect to eat fresh peaches in October

The primary method I use to save peaches for a later date is to freeze them. Contender is probably my favorite one to freeze. When dead ripe, it has a beautiful flesh color and keeps the color very well. Of the varieties I have frozen, Sun Prince does a poor job, while Intrepid and Challenger does a good job. I have pickled a few peaches but not enough to figure out a variety difference. I have only pickled them whole and a cling peach might be the best choice for that. I don’t grow any cling peaches. I could try pickling them in slices but I have never got around to doing that. Some years I make peach jam. With jam, I just use whatever peach is available when I get some time to make the jam.
So how do I intend to eat fresh peaches in October? By refrigerating China Pearl. In 2006, I put a few China Pearl in the refrigerator on August 1. I pulled two or three out at the county fair and shared it with the volunteers. The quality was very good at that time. I continued to check on them and ate the last one on Oct 15th. Honestly, it had gone downhill by that point but I think part of the problem was low humidity in the refrigerator. I only had a few peaches in the refrigerator and they were drying out. This year I placed a half bushel of china pearl peaches in the crisper section. I figure to go through them every couple of weeks and pull out anything fixing to go to the bad. Peaches are not supposed to do this. In fact, when I mentioned that I had done this to the guy who selected China Pear (Dr Denny Werner) he was surprised that it could be done.
If this can be reliably done, there should be a point in the United States where China Pearl gets ripe around September and can be saved until November when you should get a premium on fresh white peaches.
I also save some peaches in the refrigerator using another process, again with China Pearl variety, but I won’t share that because I am not totally sure it is safe. You can find a similar process by searching the internet for recipes for brandied peaches that create the alcohol instead of pouring it over the peaches. Carla Emery in her book The Encyclopedia of Country Living also mentions a similar process.

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