Monday, August 23, 2010

Peaches - Freezing, Drying, and Canning Jam

Saturday afternoon I picked up two pecks of peaches (that's about 16 quarts) from Clarkdale - where they are selling "orchard run" peaches for $25 for two pecks (or $15 for one). Orchard run fruit has been picked but not separated into first and second quality - generally a good deal for putting up. The quality of the two pecks I bought was great; all the peaches were ripe and most were in very good shape. I spent the rest of the weekend drying, freezing, baking, and making jam.

Freezing Peaches
Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Slice each half into four to six pieces. For best results, tray freeze the slices before packaging: arrange on trays, individual pieces separate from each other, and freeze for 6-8 hours. Then package in freezer bags (I do 1 lb of frozen slices per quart bag). If you don't have the time or patience to tray freeze, it's also ok to just dump all the slices into freezer bags and freeze that way. They will stick together in a giant clump, but if you plan to thaw before using, that's not a huge problem.

Drying Peaches
To dry peaches in a dehydrator, cut them in half and remove the pits. No need to peel unless desired. Then slice about 1/4-inch thick - a mandoline is great for this but a knife works, too. Instead of wedges, cut pieces of even thickness from the inside of a half to the outside. Spread slices on the dehydrator trays and dry for 9-12 hours. Check after 9 hours and remove any pieces that are completely dry; rotate the trays as well. Check every hour after 9 hours and remote dry pieces.
Using a mandoline to slice peaches into the dehydrator
Here's my recipe for Ginger Peach Jam. You can make this with fresh or frozen peaches. Skip the lemon juice if you like. You can also substitute ground ginger for the fresh.

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