Last weekend while Grace and I enjoyed a morning of farmer’s market shopping, we found Michigan Red Haven peaches.
These are by far the best peaches for canning, cooking, and eating that I have found. They are free-stone, peel easily, and taste sweet and fresh. Still, a half bushel of these fresh from the market tend to be hard and in need of more ripening.
I admit that I am not a patient person. I have been guilty of trying to can peaches way too early, before they’ve ripened, and end up with a mess. They don’t peel and no matter how much they claim they are free-stone, unless that peach is ripe, it isn’t free-stone. Just about two weeks ago I rushed some seconds I bought at another farmer’s market and ended up using most of them to make Peach-Lemonade Concentrate because peeling them was impossible. I was happy with the resulting concentrate, but frustrated nonetheless that my impatience got the best of me.
When you lose — don’t lose the lesson!
So, learning from my mistake, this time I forced myself to wait. But keeping the peaches in the bushel basket would make some of the peaches rot, some of them ripen, and leave many of them hard as a rock. So I needed some knowledge on the best way to ripen peaches evenly and quickly — again, remember I’m not a patient person.
Several web sites suggested placing the peaches on linen, covering them with more linen, and in a few days, Viola! ripe peaches. I don’t have anything linen in my house. I’m just not that type of girl. So the search continued.
Finally, after a few more pages of results I came across an article that dealt with ripening peaches myths. The one that caught my eye was about placing a peach in a paper bag, closing it and then in a day or two you’d have a ripe peach. The article stated that typically what happens when you close that bag is that moisture builds up and you end up with a rotten peach or one that is way too soft. The remedy, place the peach on flattened out paper bags and cover with more paper bags, leaving the sides open so the peaches can breathe.
Okay, this was something I could work with. I always like to pick up a few paper bags when I’m at the grocery store, just for such an emergency, and the dining room table was screaming for some use. I cut two paper bags and laid them flat on the table, spread out the half bushel of peaches, and then cut two more bags to cover them.
I let them sit there for three days.
Day 1: You’d never know what was under that paper if you didn’t sneak a peek.
Day 2: There was a faint scent of peach if you happened to pass by the table in a rush and a slight breeze wafted through the room.
Day 3: The house was overtaken by the smell of fresh peaches. That’s when I knew they were ready.
Of course Hubby and the kids stole a few from under the paper, as I found out when I removed it this morning, but at least I knew they were good and sweet and ready for canning.
It took me about 3 1/2 hours to peel, pit, can and process this half bushel, yielding me 10 quarts of fresh packed peaches for the winter. Every peach peeled easily, every peach pitted without a fuss, and every peach was perfectly ripened for canning. One of our favorite sayings around here is: Thank goodness for the Internet! and for this I am — Simply Grateful.