Q: I'm interested in freezing peaches. What's the best way to do it?
A: First, choose ripe, mature fruit of ideal quality for eating fresh. Wash the peaches and peel. Peeling without a boiling-water dip gives a better product but is more time-consuming. Slice or halve peaches as desired.
Peaches can be frozen with or without sugar. Here's how:
Syrup pack: Dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 3 cups of lukewarm water, mixing until clear, then chill before using. For a better-quality product, add 1/2 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid for each quart of syrup. (One teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals contains 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C.) Slice the fruit directly into the syrup in the container, starting with a 1/2 cup of syrup to a pint container. Press the fruit down; add syrup to cover, leaving head space; seal and freeze. I often will put a piece of wadded-up plastic wrap on top to prevent the peaches from creeping up over the syrup.
Sugar pack: Before combining the peaches with sugar, treat with the following solution to prevent darkening: 1/4 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid and 1/4 cup of cold water. Dissolve the crystalline ascorbic acid in cold water and sprinkle over 1 quart (1 1/3 pounds) of fruit. Mix 2/3 cup of sugar with each quart of fruit. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers, leaving head space, seal and freeze.
Unsweetened pack: Pack the peaches into containers. Cover with cold water or juice containing 1 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid for each quart, leaving head space, seal and freeze.
Q: I remember my grandmother making fresh peach cobbler. Do you know of a recipe?
A: Here's one shared by Ernestine Holmes, of Plains, that is featured in the cookbook "A Kansas Compote - Selected Fruit Recipes," which was produced by the Kansas Fruit Growers Assn. several years ago. For a copy of the cookbook, contact Laurie Walters, of McLouth, at (913) 796-6373.
Fresh peach cobbler with spiced honey cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
4 cups fresh sliced peaches
(or fresh frozen)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
Spiced Honey Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Drain juice from peaches. Mix cornstarch with brown sugar. Add to drained peach juice. Add peaches and cook until mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes. Add butter and lemon juice. Pour into greased 8-inch round baking dish. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and egg. Beat with spoon until batter is smooth. Drop by spoonfuls over hot peach mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Batter will spread during baking. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve warm and top with spiced honey cream. Serves 6-8.
Honey Cream: Beat heavy cream until thick. Add honey and cinnamon.