Softening, Storing, Peeling, Freezing & Canning Bennett Peaches

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Softening & Storing Bennett Peaches 

All Bennett Peaches are tree-ripened, meaning that they may be firm at first touch but will soon soften. Additionally, there is a natural variability in the level of firm and soft peaches when picked fresh off of the tree. When you first bring your harvest home, some peaches may be ready to enjoy immediately. However, being tree-ripened, it usually takes a few days at room temperature for most to fully soften. Once home, spread your Bennett Peaches out at room temperature about 2" apart on a flat surface, such as a counter or table, and check daily for softness. Readiness to eat, depending on your desired level of softness, is typically indicated when the fruit yields slightly to pressure from your thumb. If you want to expedite the softening process of Bennett Peaches, you may place a few inside a paper bag, such as the complimentary Bennett Orchards' white paper bags from our farmers' markets, and seal the top, preventing air from getting in or out. When inside a sealed paper bag, the beautiful aroma of Bennett Peaches, that tantalizes your nostrils, will help expedite the softening process. However, only do this with the ones that you plan to eat in the next 12 to 24 hours, and leave the rest spread out as afore mentioned unless you want them all ready-to-eat at once. Always be sure to never refrigerate Bennett Peaches for extended periods of time. If a chilled peach is desired, once they fully soften, you may briefly chill the fruit for no longer than 1 hour prior to serving. Prolonged refrigeration damages the flavor of a tree-ripened Bennett Peach. For best results, enjoy your harvest within 7-10 days, depending on the variety.  


How to Blanch & Peel a Bennett Peach

This is the easiest way to peel for baking, canning or freezing. First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. While water is boiling, fill a large bowl with ice and set nearby. Make a small X in the skin on the bottom of each soft peach, trying not to cut into flesh. Drop peaches into boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Quickly remove the peaches with tongs and place in a bowl of ice water. Let cool. Once cooled, remove from ice water, and, starting at the corners of the X, gently peel off skin. Voila!


How to Freeze Bennett Peaches 

Tree-ripened Bennett Peaches & Bennett Nectarines are exceptional to freeze in-season, allowing you to enjoy peak-of-the-season flavor all winter or a "sneak peek of summer" the following spring. A natural product called Fruit Fresh (ascorbic acid) must be obtained from a grocery store, Amazon, or other vendor to help preserve the fruit. 
 Once Fruit Fresh is obtained, simply follow your preferred method below:

To freeze slices individually:
Lay wax paper out on a cookie sheet. Peel, pit and slice softened Bennett Peaches or Bennett Nectarines (unpeeled) over wax paper so that they are not touching. (See steps above on How to Blanch & Peel a Bennett Peach.) Sprinkle generously with fruit fresh. (Approx. ½ teaspoon per cup of fruit.) Freeze for 6 to 8 hours. Once fully frozen, take all slices and place in a Ziploc bag back into the freezer. 

To freeze a quart surrounded with simple syrup:
Make a simple syrup and fruit fresh mixture. (For every 4 cups of fruit, mix 2 teaspoons of fruit fresh with 3 tablespoons water and 3 tablespoons sugar.) Peel, pit and then halve, quarter or slice Bennett Peaches and/or Bennett Nectarines (unpeeled). (See steps above on How to Blanch & Peel a Bennett Peach.) Place Bennett Peaches and/ or Bennett Nectarines in a quart-sized Ziploc bag surrounded by the simple syrup & fruit fresh mixture. Squeeze out any air pockets and place in freezer. 


Canning Bennett Peaches

Our Grandmother always seemed to have endless jars of canned Bennett Peaches in her pantry for us to savor over a long Delmarva Winter. Surprisingly easy, her canning recipe fed countless numbers over the years and was a welcome taste of summer in the midst of winter. We hope that the following recipe delights and nourishes your family as much as it has done for ours over generations. 

Begin by blanching and peeling 8 to 9 soft Bennett Peaches (see steps above on How to Blanch & Peel a Bennett Peach). Next, halve and remove pits before placing them in a bowl of Fruit Fresh (ascorbic acid) water (approx. 1 teaspoon of Fruit Fresh dissolved in large bowl of water) to keep them from browning while preparing your jars. Rinse your jars well and place them right side up on a rack in a water bath canner. (Water bath canners are affordable and available in any kitchen store or online such as this one on Amazon.) Fill the canner and jars with water 1" above the tops of the jars. Cover the canner, place on your burner, and heat water to just shy of boiling (approx. 180° F). Place the lids and rings in a saucepan and fill with water 1" above the tops of the lids. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and leave the lids in simmering water while preparing the syrup. 

Carefully remove the jars from the water bath canner, pouring the water from inside the jars back into the canner. Next, place peach halves in the jars, cut side down. Combine 4 cups water, the juice of 1 lemon, and 2 cups of sugar (may also use 3 cups water and 2 cups honey instead) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until all ingredients are dissolved. Fill the jars with the hot syrup, leaving a ½" space at the top. Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe the top rim of the jar to remove any residue. Remove lids from the hot water and place onto the jars. 

Carefully lower the sealed jars into the water bath canner, making sure the water is 1" above the tops of the jars. If not, add more hot water to cover. Cover water bath canner with a lid and bring to a boil. Boil, covered, for 30 minutes, making sure the water is always covering the tops of the jars. Remove the jars carefully from the water and let cool for 12 hours on a dry towel or wire rack. Your canned Bennett Peaches may be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to 1 year. 

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For more ideas on how to further enjoy Bennett Peaches please check out some of our Farmstead Peach Recipes.