Softening & Storing Bennett Peaches
All Bennett Peaches are tree-ripened, meaning 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 they are picked fresh off of the tree. When you 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 them to fully soften. Once home, spread your Bennett Peaches out about 2" apart on a flat surface, such as a counter or table, at room temperature and check daily for softness. Readiness to eat, depending on your desired level of softness, is typically indicated by a deep yellow background color and 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 at 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 want 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, when they fully soften, you may briefly chill the fruit no longer than 1 hour before 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 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 out wax paper on a cookie sheet. Peel, pit and slice softened Bennett Peaches or Bennett Nectarines (unpeeled) over wax paper so that they are not touching. Sprinkle generously with fruit fresh. (Approx. ½ teaspoon per cup of fruit.) Freeze for 6-8 hours. Once fully frozen, take all slices and place in a Ziploc bag back in 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. Place Bennett Peaches and/ or Bennett Nectarines in a quart-sized Ziploc bag surrounded by the simple syrup & fruit fresh mixture. Place in freezer.
For more ideas on how to further enjoy Bennett Peaches please check out some of our Farmstead Peach Recipes.