Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Preserved Peaches Frozen not Canned!

Preserved Peaches  Frozen not Canned!

Crates of beautiful ripe peaches are available at the market now, and the media is full of advice on canning the lovelies.  For a mere $22, I bought a crate of 30 huge peaches at the Kingsland Market in Calgary, let them ripen for a couple of days, and preserved them the easiest and safest way I know.

I’ve used this method for ten years, and I confess to having lost the original set of directions.  Canning peaches is a risky game, what with all those jars and lids that want sterilization, and if something goes awry, it’s game over for whoever ate the tainted lovelies.  This is my main reason for preserving via the frozen method, although I do wistfully stare at jars of beautifully canned peaches, because they are visual masterpieces in themselves.  But my reality is that my neatness skills are not up to such a level, especially when there’s the risk of death, yes death, for heaven’s sakes!
My original recipe referred to this method as the "sugar dry pack", although it certainly isn’t a dry method, especially once the juicy peaches hit the mixture, and immediately turn the dry mix to sweet soup.

Expect to spend at least a couple of hours on this project, and have these items ready:

case of ripe peaches
2 cups jaggery powder (shakar aka Punjabi raw cane sugar)
1500 mm Vitamin C
mortar and pestle
large pot of boiling water
a spider (Chinese stirring gadget) or large slotted spoon
top quality freezer bags (assorted sizes)
tea towels
large bowl
smaller bowl
paring knife

When I bought my crate of peaches, they were still too firm, so I left them for a couple of days, and when I saw, (felt and tasted) that they’d hit their peak, I put a huge pot of water on to boil and assembled the items listed above. 

In the large bowl, add half the jaggery and Vitamin C powder.  Stir well.  In the past, I’ve used chewable Vitamin C, but it’s not necessary.  As it comes in a tablet form, I use a mortar and pestle to grind it to powder before adding to the jaggery.  If you're tempted to use white sugar, don't.  The flavour will not be as luscious!  Back in boarding school in Midnapore, the FCJ nuns made a peach and brown sugar dish that was among the most astonishingly delicious desserts I've ever tasted.  But jaggery is the best of brown sugars, so be sure to use it!

It’s wise to work in small batches.  Set out 3 to 4 freezer bags, assorted sizes, open them, and have them facing you, near the bowl of sugar.  Have a clean tea towel between the stove and bowl of sugar.  Have a smaller empty bowl next to the sugar.  Using a spider or large slotted spoon, gently lower four peaches into the boiling water.  Don’t just plop them in, or hot water will splash up.  This process kills the germs and enzymes, and makes the peaches easy to peel.  (When eating fresh food, enzymes are a good thing, but not so good for when the food needs preservation.)  Roll them gently with the lifter, counting to 60.  Lift out, and let dry on tea towel.

With spotlessly clean hands, pick up a peach and peel it.  Discard peel and pit into that small bowl.  Using a pairing knife, slice the peach into the bowl of sugar.  Continue till all four peaches are done.  I use my hands to mix the peach slices through the sugar, to make sure that all surfaces are acquainted with the Vitamin C and sugar.  With the bags handy, I use my hands to fill them.  The bags need to be sealed, but before each one is fully sealed, gently squeeze out the air by pressing down, then seal completely. 
Freezing works best when items hit the freezer at different times.  If you can, get the first batch into the freezer immediately.  We have two fridges with small freezers, and a stand alone freezer, since we are complete gluttons…  Even so, I myself didn’t get them into the freezer in batches, I confess.  (I never do, but they come out beautifully, although perhaps they’d be better if I did.)
The sink will be your best friend in this process.  Washing your hands a gazillion times during this activity will be required!

Carry on with the next batch of peaches and freezer bags.  When you’re about half way through the crate, add the rest of the jaggery and Vitamin C to the sugar bowl, and continue along.

A jar of preserved peaches is a delight to behold, but opening a tin can of peaches is a sad experience, indeed.  So flavourless, lifeless, and smelling of tin.  If you love peaches, this is an excellent way of ensuring your winter will be full of the bright sweet things.
Because I put them up in assorted size bags, I can take out a small bag just for myself, or a medium size for me and husband person, or a big bag for a gorgeous dessert for company, usually my Cardamom Bliss Peach Crumble 
Rush to the market right now, because these crates of fresh peaches will be gone soon.  Get them while you can.  But don't can, freeze instead!


  1. Could you do it without the sugar- or with less sugar?

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    You could get away with less sugar. You only need to acquaint each slice with the sugar mix. I poured the leftover soupy mix into the last three bags, but not that much goes into the peaches. The bags of peaches don't have much sugar at all, unless the syrup is poured in with them. You wouldn't skip the sugar completely, because it helps to preserve the peaches. Thanks for reading my blog, by the way!

  3. Yumm!! I freeze strawberries in sugar each year!