August 's gift to winter, dehydrated peaches
The peaches are delicious this year. Incredibly sweet and delightfully juicy, Who wouldn’t want to find ways to preserve their deliciousness for non-summer days? This year, 2019, the peach trees not lost from a late spring frost, made it through a very wet spring and terribly hot summer, At the Farmers Market in August, bushel baskets of peaches brighten the market with their happy yellow fuzz. But don’t wait too long, the season is somewhat short, just 3 or 4 weeks and they’re done. Peaches just beckon to be taken home to can, freeze, or dehydrate as well as to devour fresh! Let’s have peach crisp tonight after we finish the last of the summer corn. Biting into a juicy peach is imbibing unbelievable goodness. .I feel healthier after I’ve eaten a fresh peach, uplifted even! Preserving fresh, abundant food throughout the summer is something I find worth doing, as stocking up on your winter supply of fruits and vegetables is a valuable, worthwhile endeavor. It’s wise to have an abundant, or at least adequate, supply of food available in winter, when fresh food is imported, expensive and not very flavorful, and for emergencies in case of disasters or the grid going down. How do you prepare food if the power is out? Canning and dehydrating are great ways to stay stocked up. Preserving fresh foods while they are readily available and infinitely less expensive, especially if you buy in bulk, is just plain commonsense. A a bushel of peaches, around 150 peaches, costs approximately $20-$25. This is a fraction of the cost of peaches bought out of season and tasteless in winter. Buying in bulk when food is in season is extremely cost effective. It’s plain common sense to buy in bulk if you have the ability to process lots of food. When assessing the costs of time and money, I consider the time it takes to deal with an abundance of food and decide that the time is worth the high value I place on my health and getting good nutrition, making the time cost worth the prevention of illness and the cost of the time lost being sick. So, being proactive about my health and ability to feed myself healthy foods takes precedence and late summer has become an extremely busy time. It’s worth my time to make the time for preserving foods and adding it to my summer list of things to do.
There are many ways to preserve foods and typically I have canned and frozen fruits but this year I’ve decided to try some dehydrating. I don’t seem to want canned peaches in the wintertime, with the exception of maybe making a peach crisp. I’ve got so many blueberries frozen this year that peach/blueberry crisps, cobblers and pancakes will be on the winter menu. But I want something I can just get out and enjoy eating without having to cook and be able to take along camping or when travelling. I experimented with dehydrating peaches today.
Here’s how it went. I got lucky at the Amish Farmer’s Market at the end of the day yesterday. There was a large basket of “bruised” peaches on sale for $4.00. I bought a basket with about 15 peaches for $4.00!! The fact that they were bruised meant they were ripe and had dark spots that can easily be cut away when you’re preparing them. Starting by peeling and slicing, then dunking the slices in lemon water to prevent oxidation or browning, then laying on the dehydrator trays to be slowly dehydrated. At first I peeled and sliced them thin, dehydrating for about 6 hours. The result was more like peach chips, fully dried and stuck to the shelves. Prying them off with a knife was made worthwhile by the nibbling on all of the broken pieces. I sliced the next batch a bit thicker, and also rubbed a little coconut oil on the trays first to prevent the sticking debacle. The result: delicious dried peaches that are still a bit chewy and very sweet. I will store them in a jar in the freezer, preventing any mold issues. Even if the grid goes down the peaches will stay good to eat.
Being able to fill the shelves with summer’s abundance is such a gift. Many people have access to fresh foods and don’t take advantage of their economic savings and health offerings, Others have no access at all to fresh foods, let alone bushels of it. I feel blessed to live in central Pennsylvania. where food is abundant in the summertime and incredibly delicious. My late night snack with a fresh peach was inspired by my husband’s love of eating peanut butter on toast before bed. He made me a few slices which I topped with sliced fresh peaches. Absolutely delicious combination!