Millions of peaches...

03 April, 2013

...peaches for me!

Over the Easter long weekend I did lots of catching up with friends and family and had a wonderful time. As I hope you did also.

But in addition to this, the four days off also gave me the opportunity to preserve the many, many peaches that my parents had on their lone remaining peach tree (they used to have peaches and nectarines, but now only the peach remains.) Now a single peach tree does not sound particularly special. I'm sure there are many just like it in many backyards across this fine country, and the world. But this one is very special to me. It is one of the reasons why I grow my own fruit and veg, and have planted many more such trees in my own backyard. And that reason is memories.

Memories of picking bags of nectarines to give away. Memories of picking peaches as big as my hands. Memories of pulling unripe nectarines off the tree and whacking them with my tennis racket into the next door neighbours yard (sorry about that.)

My parents don't do much with the fruit now. Most of it in recent years has fallen to the ground and rotted as my mum don't preserve anymore. But this year, I wasn't going to stand for that. I have the Fowlers Vacola unit and a dehydrator!

So while I was over for Easter I picked most of the fruit off the tree.


These peaches are a late clingstone firm fleshed peach. They are ok for eating when they are really, really ripe. But they are really good for preserving.

Some were still as big as my hands.


And so I preserved. I chopped up the peaches. I was lazy and didn't remove the skin.


This pan full was about one bag of peaches. Remember there were three bags! I boiled them until soft.


Then packed them into jars and into the FV. One bag down, two to go.

Unfortunately, after the first batch I had run out of good sized preserving jars. What was I to do?

This was when the dehydrator came into its own. As I had some presliced the peaches, I put the slices onto the dehydrator trays. I knew these would take at least a day to dehydrate, but I couldn't fit them all onto the trays. I still had about half a bags worth of peach slices left.

So I decided to also make peach leather. Now for those not familiar a fruit leather is just a very dehydrated fruit pulp, which ends up quite leathery, hence the name. Think of those children's snack abominations Roll-Ups, but made with actual fruit. Just like the good old days.

To make the peach leather I cooked the peaches, then used a stick blender to puree the peaches. Then back onto a medium heat on the stove to thicken. I cooked this on the stove until it was a very thick jammy texture, then thinly (about half a cm thick) spread out the mixture on oven trays. The trays went into a low oven (as low as possible, with a wooden spoon in the door to keep it a little open) until dry. This took ages! Seriously, they were in there for about 3 days. But once the mixture was firm and not at all squashable, out they came and were cut up into snack size pieces and lightly scattered in sugar just to be on the safe side. I've never made these before and I don't want them to go mouldy.

Both bottled peaches and dehydrated peaches were my gifts to family over the holiday. Much better tasting than cheap chocolate in my opinion!

Here is my stash.


Plenty to enjoy for the rest of the year until peach season is upon us once more.

15 comments:

  1. Mmm, that sounds just divine. Dried peaches would be fabulous. I have been drying pears and apples from my trees in the dehydrator, and a few weeks ago I made plum leather, also in the dehydrator. I used the method you did, and lined the dehydrator trays with baking paper. It worked really well, except the children loved them so much they are all gone...

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    1. Mmmm, dried pears and apples. I can't wait for my apples to crop enough to dry them. Plum leather sounds fabulous. I will have to give that a go in the dehydrator. Hopefully it will be faster than the oven!

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  2. Fantastic! I was wondering about doing leathers in the dehydrator. Do they taste good? I reckon my kids would love them (but I've never let them try those roll up things).

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    1. Hi veggiegobbler (love that name), the plum leathers I made tasted divine. I am about to try apple. I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago,if you want to see step by step, but it was basically the same as Bek's method. I made baking paper rounds to fit into the dehydrator trays with the middle cut out, and sprayed them with baking spray. The leathers were done when they lifted out whole without sticking. You can't add any sugar or the leather will be brittle and break. Good luck!

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    2. Having made it for the first time I'm very impressed with the flavour of the peach leather, so I'd wholeheartedly endorse them. I want to try Jo's plum leather too now! Although I did put a little sugar (about 3/4 cup to at least 6kg of peaches) and the texture is fine - chewy but not brittle. Maybe it depends on what fruit you use when you add sugar...

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    3. I'm only going on Sally Wise's advice from A Year in a Bottle. She suggests honey instead of sugar to avoid brittleness. I did try making fruit leather with a tin of pears in syrup once, and it was a dismal failure, didn't pull off the tray at all, broke into hundreds of tiny pieces. Maybe it depends how much sugar you use. You didn't use very much Bek. I didn't use any, and the plums (little yellow cherry ones) were tart but moreish, like those sour lollies. Kids couldn't get enough of them. They were very 'regular' for a couple of weeks there...

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    4. I'd be going with what Sally Wise said for sure! True, I didn't use much sugar, so maybe it is quantity. Haha - obviously very good for the bowels too - yet another positive!
      PS - I now have plum leather dehydrating at this very moment! I'm hopeful mine tastes as good as yours.

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  3. I got a Fowlers unit this year and preserved some peaches. I didn't cook mine first though - Should I have? The jars we've opened so far seem fine.

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    1. I don't think it matters. I just find that I can pack more in when I slightly cook them first as they're a bit softer. I'm sure they taste just as good when preserved from raw.

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  4. Oh that display of jars gives me a warm and cosy feeling. There is something about food in jars that I just love. Is that weird?

    A little down the road from us there is an empty block of land with a single peach and grape vine growing in it. For weeks I had been watching it, waiting for the fruit to ripen. A few weeks back it did, and they were stunning. Sadly not enough to preserve.

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    1. It's not at all weird! I love it too, a feeling of whatever happens there will be good food! I love the idea of a peach tree on a empty block - just waiting for someone to appreciate what it has to offer. Pity there wasn't enough to preserve though.

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  5. Just stunning, fabulous peaches and peach preserving!

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    1. Cheers! I kind of like that I don't know what variety it is, though I'm sure I'll miss it when my parents eventually sell their place.

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  6. Wow! I really have to get myself a preserving kit. I do actually have some jars (no lids) from one client and another suggested I could have hers but alas she gave it away before I could collect it. Have you got a peach tree growing for when your parents move? How did the plain dehydrated peach taste? Wonder if a peach tree would grow well in Sydney?

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    1. It's totally worth it! I don't know what I'd do without mine. Yes I have two peach trees currently, but they are both early white peaches (my favourite) so I'll have to find myself space for a late season preserving type. The dehydrated peaches are great - I'm just eating one now to accurately describe them - really meaty and a good peachy flavour, but not as sweet as dried apricots or apples I think. Definitely peach trees would work well in Sydney, if you get a low chill requiring variety. I don't know if fruit fly is a problem though...

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