Millions of peaches, peaches for me

May I apologize now to you, dear readers, for I have neglected my blog somewhat.  Two things have kept me from being a faithful blogess…#1, my computer came down with a virus.  Well, actually three viruses.  I have had the same computer for seven years and have never had a virus.  Oh, what I would love to do to the little programmer who came up with my viruses.  A baseball bat does come to mind.  Anyway, the good news is that my Jason bought me a laptop to take the place of my ill computer (who is fixed, but anyway).  #2 reason is that it is, as the weather service has been fond of saying lately, OPPRESSIVELY HOT.  When it is OPPRESSIVELY HOT, my brain does not function well.  I become gripe-y and snippy and say things which I would otherwise reserve for my mid-month part of my ‘cycle’.  So, to protect you, the reader, from any more long and annoying ‘On my Soap Box’ posts, I have just refrained from writing for a while.  Now, on to something non-snippy:

This, apparently, was a banner year for peaches.  If you had a properly kept peach tree, you had a ton of peaches.  We severely trimmed back our old, overgrown peach tree last spring.  I wasn’t even sure if it would survive.  It looked like a terrible tree massacre had taken place, but our extension agent who performed the job assured us that it would put off a ton of new growth, on which peaches would form.  Well, either that or it would die from shock.  Happily, it chose life over death and survived its pruning session.  Here are some before and after photos:

As you can see, this peach tree is quite tall with a lot of vertical growth.  Ever drove by a peach orchard?  You will notice that peach growers keep their trees very small, no more than about 8 feet tall or so, if even that.  It makes for more fruit since the tree does not have to put as much energy into all of those branches.  The vertical growth doesn’t produce peaches anyway (they are called water sprouts/shoots), so by removing them, your tree can concentrate more onto making you some lovely peaches.  Here is Joe about to perform some major work:

Now, as you can see, the tree has lost most of its vertical growth.  With peaches, you want the tree to look bowl-shaped, with an open center for ventilation, and keep growth horizontal.  He did leave some smaller branches to try and prevent sun scald on the tree when it did leaf out, since the tree was used to a lot of shade.

Now that the tree had been trimmed, it was just a game of wait and see.  That year (2009), the tree decided to live and it prospered.  There was a ton of new growth to try and replace what had been taken.  So, in February of 2010, we trimmed her again.  This time, not as severely, but mainly any water shoots.  By March, the tree came alive with tons of pink blooms:

We were so excited.  The big killer of peaches around here is an early frost.  Even though this year we received two snows which NEVER happens, we were fortunate enough to not get a late frost.  What often happens is that after flowering, a late frost comes along in April and kills all the little baby peaches trying to form.  Well, this year, that didn’t happen, and we were rewarded by many, many 10’s of pounds of peaches.

I wish I could give you the final tally, but unfortunately, my scale broke in the middle of weighing one day.  My estimate would be a good 60-70 pounds…maybe a little more for that one tree!

So, what do you do with 60 pounds of peaches?  Well, I hate the taste of canned peaches, so I froze them.  It’s very easy to freeze peaches.  First, I take the fresh ones and dunk them in boiling water for about 45 seconds.  Then I put them in a big pot of ice water for a couple of minutes.  This allows the skin to peel right off like magic.  This is also how I peel tomatoes that I am going to can.  Anyway, then you peel them, and I sliced them into halves.  I simultaneously kept the halved peaches in a bath of water treated with Fruit Fresh (calcium citrate, I believe).  This prevents browning.  When you freeze peaches, they need to be in a sugary liquid.  Some people do actually use a sugar/water concoction, but I used organic apple juice instead.  I mixed the apple juice with some Fruit Fresh…whatever the directions on the Fruit Fresh recommend.  I think it’s a teaspoon per cup of liquid or something like that.  Then, I put the peaches in a Ziploc gallon bag, and poured enough of my apple juice concoction on them to cover about 3/4 of the peaches.  I lay the bags flat and freeze them on a cookie sheet so that they freeze nice and flat, too.

Forgive the pictures, they’re not great!!!