This was started originally a couple of months ago….trying to clean out my drafts….
Blanching peaches is a pretty simple process. The peel of the peach needs to be removed from the peach. Since the goal is to maximize and preserve the greatest amount of the fruit, my wife insisted I engage in this ingenious process while my she visited her family out of state. (She also insisted in me picking them after driving over an hour one way. I will admit to under-thinking my “Yes, Dears.”, but it would seem I should have spent a little more time reflecting on what exactly I was signing up for.) The tools for blanching: boiling water, ice bath, cutting board with knife, discerning eye to see worms, bruises and all other phenomenon considered unappealing to the eye and the taste, and a place for the “good” stuff. (The trash can was left off of the list. I believe it is implied unless you live in a household that actively invites insects and other vermin to dine at their leisure.)
The first wave of the blanching (We did this in 3 waves. There were advantages and disadvantages associated with each wave. I am no expert, but I felt the disadvantages outweighed the advantages in almost all cases. The largest redeeming factor was the quality family time it encouraged.) The first wave was mostly an exercise in getting the proper pans in their proper places. (My wife chose this day to “pretend” she wasn’t getting my text. My request was simple, “Please call me and tell me what to do with these peaches, or they will go down the disposal.” Her continued lack of response brought even greater text threats, “The peaches are screaming as I warm up the disposal.” Also to no avail was my, “We have sacrificed the first. It is entirely on your conscience.” ) Since threats were getting me no where, we went where the world goes for all of the DIY projects, Youtube. My son was responsible for the details of the first wave. (The pictures above are of the third wave, but the work space was laid out approximately the same for the first two.)
The first step was drowning the peaches in the boiling water after an “X” was cut into their base. The boil time was supposed to be a minute or so. However, we must have overloaded the water so the “boil” was lost. We ended up putting the lid on the pan for most of the rest of the first wave. With the peaches only having been in our possession a few hours, the peaches were not very familiar with the word “ripe”. They were more familiar with the idea of “ripening”. Although the first wave yielding almost a 1 gallon freezer bag of peaches, it was not without some struggles. As the peels started to hint they were ready to be removed while enjoying the hot tub, we found, in many cases, the entire peel was not in agreement with this. The ice bath that followed was meant to convince the peach any further resistance was entirely futile. Some of the peaches were knuckleheads-they insisted on the life slicing off nearly their entire peel.
The peels were not the entire process. Once the peach was liberated of its peel, the pits needed to be evacuated. Ideally, if the peach freely gave up its peel, the peach was cut open, and the pit quickly removed. The peach halves were placed in the proper tub, and the next challenger stepped onto the cutting board. Due to the peels having a deep affinity for the peaches (they are family really. I realize it is practically like removing a skin from an animal. Although no leather is made of the peel, it is almost exactly the same, isn’t it?) and the peaches having to be boiled excessively to defeat the peels in one-on-one combat, the peach fruit was VERY warm. In fact, warm does not accurately describe it. It was somewhere between a state of liquid and solid. It could be grasped if you didn’t grab too tightly. The longer the peach was in the boiling water, the worst the peach dweller fared. The worms were not everywhere, but when they were, every brown spot their slimy little bodies touched was severed from the “good” fruit.
Wave Two looked much like the first wave. The two big difference were I did it alone, and some of the fruit was not aging well. All of the peaches were resting on newspaper as they attempted to gracefully go through the aging process. At the time of the 2nd Wave of blanching, only a few of the peaches had mold tendrils reaching out to the newspaper or fellow peach captives. The worms seemed better fed in this round. While the boiling process was still not as smooth as I or the peels would have liked – I knew I would ultimately win. The peels would come gracefully or they would embrace their inner pit, and fight me with every inch of their fruitiness. A few of the peaches were spared the boiling due to their accelerated aging process. Whether it was mold or the worms within or the unbalanced maturing of the peach, some of the peaches went into the trash with their bodies intact.
The 3rd wave was highlighted because my daughters were able to help. They were part of last years “team”, and their experience showed. As the third wave took place almost 4 days after the picking, the more senior peaches were again ready to skip the water and head directly to their eternal homes. My daughters were more deliberate in making these “yes” or “no” decision. We were still able to fill a couple of freezer bags. The “rejects” would have made more than a bag were they not so intent on maturing so rapidly. (Or, maybe I was intent on leaving them sit on the counter to receive pity from the portion of my family that had been traveling while I participated in both sides of the adventure – the picking and the blanching.)
Now, “mom” has 4 bags of peaches awaiting her jam and/or syrup attention. Her original request to pick peaches and “keep” the tradition alive has turned into an excessive amount of freezer space dedicated to preserving peaches we may or may not enjoy yet this year. As with many things, it is not what you do, but who you do it with. This was one of those times when teenage enthusiasm trumped the redundancy of the activity.