I'm planning to freeze some peaches this year. My question is, do I have to use pectin or will lemon juice suffice to keep them from turning brown?
What I do for using the peaches fresh (right away) is to wash them, peel them, slice them, then toss them with sugar/splenda and some lemon juice. I let them macerate on the counter for an hour or so and they hold up fine, not turning brown. I'm wondering if this same method will work ok if I then freeze them.
Any advice is very much appreciated. Thanks!
In my family, we used to always get a bushel of peaches this time of year, and boil a pot of water, dump the peaches in for about 20 seconds, and then fish them out. This makes them really easy to peel. Then we'd slice them off the stone (seed) over a bowl, so that we didn't lose any of the drips of juice. There were always a few drips of water from the boiling, too, for a little bit of extra liquid. Then we'd stir in ascorbic acid in some form, usually either lemon juice or ground up vitamin C tablets, but fruit fresh is the same thing, but it also has dextrose sugar. So you can use Fruit Fresh instead of the lemon juice or vitamin C tablets, or else a thawed can of (undiluted) frozen orange or lemon juice, which already has the sugar in it. We used to just add a little sugar to the mix before freezing in zip lock bags.
The acid keeps the fruit from darkening, so it looks more appealing later on, and it also adds a bit of flavor to the peaches, which have a delicate flavor anyway, that loses a bit when they're frozen. The sugar is also there for a reason - sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it "loves" water and retains it easily. So having a little sugar coating your peaches helps them to retain their juices and resist freezer burn. Freezer burn is when the moisture gets drawn out of the fruit, and the cells of the fruit are broken. When when you thaw it, it has less flavor, and the texture is really mushy. The sugar also helps keep it from absorbing moisture from the freezer, so that it doesn't get that nasty "freezer ice" taste.
When we did this, we just did it by taste, stirring a spoonful or 2 of sugar into every bag of peaches we were freezing, so I don't have exact measurements. It was slightly sweeter than fresh peaches, of course, but not enough for pie filling - and it depends on how sweet the peaches are to begin with. So I copied out here a recipe that came from Alton Brown, don't know how his measurements would compare, since I haven't tried his, but I think they're likely similar. I also haven't tried adding paprika as he does (I think for both color and flavor), which might be nice, but I think I'd only do that to a test bag or two, since it might make the end product less versatile if you want to bake with it later.
All I know is that when we pulled a bag of those frozen peaches out of the freezer in mid winter, we felt we were eating gold. They were wonderful, we always ate them half thawed, they were so good they rarely made it as far as getting baked into a pie. But if you do think you'll be baking with them later, make yourself a notation as to the proportions of juice and sugar that you added when freezing them, so you can "short" your recipe a little sugar or juice later on. And the frozen cubes are great to make smoothies, or to use instead of ice cubes in iced tea or whatever. Soften a little vanilla ice cream, and stir them in with a little cinnamon, or add them into some jello made with juice to make popsicles (note: if you do popsicles, make them a lot sweeter that you think-frozen, you can't taste the sweetness as much). Enjoy!
Frozen Peaches, Alton Brown
4 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground children's Vitamin C
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 pound peeled and pitted fresh peaches, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
Place the sugar, Vitamin C and paprika into a 1-gallon zip-top bag, seal and shake to combine. Add the peaches and toss to coat well. Lay the bag flat on a counter and using a straw, suck out any remaining air in the bag. Return to the freezer.
I had a bunch of extra peaches after we went peach picking and I just peeled them, cut them up into chunks and put them in baggies/plastic containers. Didn't add anything. Froze. We've brought out and just eaten them straight from the bag or slightly thawed. They don't thaw completely very nice (they do turn mushy/brown) but semi-frozen or frozen they are GREAT.
Alton Brown had a great epsiode the other night on freezing peaches. I'm sure you can still find the episode listing on www.foodnetwork.com I'll have to call my mom and double check but she tosses all the ingredients for peach pie filling together then lines a pie dish with foil, plastic wrap, or wax paper(whatever you have on hand at home and will peel off frozen product easy) fill in the filling and freeze. When the product is frozen, you can wrap or store in a plastic bag. When you crave peach pie(or crumble in your pie plate), pull out and place into your dough lined pie plate and bake!
Pectin is only used to thicken jams or jellies, not for freezing fresh fruit; it is not used to prevent browning. No harm in freezing your peaches the way you prepare fresh peaches; the lemon juice should suffice to keep them from turning brown. (I think you may be confusing pectin with citric acid, which is often used instead of lemon juice to prevent browning.)