August 24, 2014

10 Awesome Ways to Preserve the WHOLE Peach

Originally Published at Nutritional Anarchy

Peaches.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had my hands on 100 pounds of them.

There’s a large orchard just down the road from me, where I buy “seconds” for canning. However, their seconds are about a kabillion times better than the hard, tasteless orbs you pick up at the grocery store, and they aren’t doused in pesticides and then sprayed with preservatives.

We are in sweet-smelling, luscious peach heaven right now.

And we’re using the whole darned peach. Not one drop of juicy peachy goodness is going to waste.

My clever daughter refers to this as “using the whole buffalo.

We have managed to use the lush fruit, the peel, and the pits and we’ve preserved these goodies so that we can have a taste of sunshine during the cold months.

Some of you are probably saying: “Peach pits!  Is she nuts?  Doesn’t she know there’s cyanide in peach pits?”

Yes, I did know that. And I was likewise horrified when I saw the idea to use them to make food.  But after reading several different articles, I feel very confident that the cyanide is reduced to a completely non-toxic level. Don’t take my word for it! Do some research on your own, and only proceed with the peach pit recipes if it feels right for your family.

In the interest of presenting both sides of the argument, this segment from the NY Times strongly warns against consuming the kernels.

Compounds containing cyanide can be found in some fruit pit kernels and some other foods as well, said Dr. Rodney Dietert, professor of immunogenetics and director of the Institute for Comparative and Environmental Toxicology at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and his wife, Dr. Margaret Dietert, associate professor of biology at Wells College, Aurora, N.Y.

Even cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower contain cyanide compounds, but not enough to make them unsafe, Dr. Margaret Dietert said. In fact, Dr. Rodney Dietert said, “toxic compounds can now be detected at a lower level than was possible when laws were passed making anything above zero risk unacceptable for externally applied toxins and carcinogens.”

Fruit pits can add up to a real risk, however, said Dr. Margaret Dietert, who teaches a course in medicinal botany. Apricot pits, for example, contain a compound called amygdalin, the supposedly active ingredient in laetrile, the discredited cancer drug, said Dr. Rodney Dietert. Amygdalin is a member of the class of chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides, meaning that it can be broken down into cyanide, glucose and benzaldehyde by an enzyme, he said.

A study of the toxicity levels of peaches and apricots clearly shows that 13 to 15 raw peach pit kernels would get you into the lethal range for adults, Dr. Margaret Dietert said.

For apricots, the toxicity varies widely in a tenfold range, depending on variety, she said. . The wild apricot is highest, and some are quite low, but for a variety in the middle level of toxicity, about 17 to 20 kernels would get you into the lethal range. No one has survived eating more than 38.

For children, around 15 percent of the adult level could be lethal, because they are extremely susceptible.

Based on centuries of people who survived after regularly consuming extracts and liqueurs from stone pit fruits, many cooking blogs strongly disagree with the Dietert’s assessment.  There’s even a cookbook called The Little Cyanide Cookbook that is filled with recipes using the kernels of stone fruits. It’s from a credible source, too. The author is a former toxicologist and pharmacologist for the Food and Drug Administration.

BraveTart, another “waste not, want not” kind of person, explains in a blog post:

When I tweeted a menu update about peach pit panna cotta, I received a flood of replies along the lines of omg, cyanide. Since I couldn’t explain the situation in 140 characters, I promised to blog about it and here I go.

Peach, apricot, cherry and plum pits all contain a delicious little almond-flavored kernel inside their hard shells. The French pitch the pits and keep the kernel, calling it noyau. They use it to make all kinds of super tasty things like marzipan, amaretto and (surprise) almond extract. Sometimes restaurants use “apricot pit” or “peach pit” as a euphemism for noyau, an unfamiliar word to most customers, which only adds to the confusion. The pit holds the kernel, but they’re as different as walnut shells and walnuts.

The knee-jerk omg cyanide reaction seemingly everyone responds with isn’t entirely unfounded. Noyaux contain a substance called amygdalin, which breaks down during digestion to become sinister hydro-cyanic acid. Given the chance, a hundred grams of raw stone fruit kernels would produce about 160 milligrams of cyanide. Probably the most over-hyped, shrug-worthy food risk on the planet when you consider a hundred grams of black beans would produce 400 milligrams of cyanide (thanks, dusty copy of Food and Nutritional Toxicology). As with those deadly black beans, cooking the pits causes a breakdown of the harmful substances and renders them safe for consumption, which is why your game of Clue doesn’t come with tiny pewter noyaux along with the wrench and candlestick.

The kernels, not the pit itself, are the part that contains the cyanide. But they’re edible too – French and Cajun folks have consumed them for centuries. The fancy French-chef-name for the kernels is Noyaux, and they are used to make an almond-flavored extract. Raw, if you ate a kabillion of them, it could make you ill.  Incidentally, amygdalin, the substance that has people alarmed, is the basis for an anti-cancer drug called Laetrile. Cooked, the amygdalin enzyme is deactivated, and there is, according to numerous food writers, including Bon Appetit, no further risk. Here’s a recipe for Creme de Noyaux and one for a sweet Peach Kernel Ratafia.

For the most part noyaux are used for flavoring ice creams, custard, apricot jams, or eau de vie. However, there is some argument that they’re harmful. True, the pits have the tiniest amount of prussic acid – you probably know it as hydrogen cyanide – which is poisonous. Given, eating one of these isn’t going to kill you. Eating a small mountain of them raw might. A handful might result in a stomachache. Furthermore when you mix prussic acid with water the acid will leach out of the pit and become stronger. Doing a double roasting eliminates the enzymes and makes it safe for use. (source)

Roasting the kernels at 325 for 15 minutes is said to rid them of their potential toxicity. If you’re uncomfortable with using them as they come from the pit, simply roast them first and carry on.

So….Here’s what we’ve done with all the peachy goodness.

#1 Sweet Lemon Peaches

sweet lemon peaches

Ingredients:

  • 8 pounds of peaches
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups of turbinado sugar
  • up to 1/2 cup of lemon juice

 Directions:

Make a light syrup by adding 2 cups of sugar (I recommend organic turbinado) to 6 cups of water and bring it to a boil.   Stir in a quarter to a half a cup of lemon juice, depending how tart you want the end result to be.

Fill sanitized jars with peach slices.

Ladle the syrup over the peach slices, then process quart jars in a water bath canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude.  Alternatively, process them in a pressure canner at 5 pounds for 10 minutes, also adjusting for altitude.  Approximately 4 large peaches fit snugly into a quart jar.

#2 Vanilla-Spiced Peaches

vanilla spiced peaches

  • 8 pounds of peaches
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups of brown sugar ( I like Muscovado)
  • 3 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp of allspice
  • 1/2 tsp of clove powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg

Make a  syrup by adding brown sugar and spices to 6 cups of water and bring it to a boil.   Add the vanilla once the syrup has come to a boil.

Fill sanitized jars with peach slices.

Ladle the syrup over the peach slices, then process quart jars in a water bath canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude.  Alternatively, process them in a pressure canner at 5 pounds for 10 minutes, also adjusting for altitude.  Approximately 4 large peaches fit snugly into a quart jar.

#3 Brown Sugar Peach Preserves

brown sugar peach preserves

The recipe for this decadently rich dark brown spread was originally published  at The Organic Prepper. I’ve since adapted the recipe to be made without added pectin. This is beautifully spreadable and has a pleasing slight hint of caramel.

Ingredients

  • 8 pounds of fresh peaches
  • 2 cups of white or turbinado sugar
  • 2 cups of brown or muscovado sugar
  • 1/8 cup of lemon juice.

Directions

Prep your fruit by washing it carefully. If the peaches are not organic, make a baking soda rinse to help remove the pesticides.

Peel the peaches if you want to use them for making candy, otherwise you can just remove the pits and puree them, skins and all.

Smush your fruit.  You can do this with a potato masher, food processer, blender or food mill.  If you want, you can finely chop some of the fruit for added texture.

Layer the puree, chunks of fruit, and the white sugar in a large crock and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, line a colander with cloth and place it in a large bowl. Pour your fruit and sugar mixture into it and allow it to drain for at least 2 hours. I’ve left it draining overnight and the resulting jam was thick and wonderful.

When you’re ready to make jam, place the drained mixture into a stockpot and bring it to a boil.  Reserve the juice for making syrup. Stir the mixture frequently.

Once it is boiling, stir in the brown sugar and the lemon juice and return to a boil. Immediately stir it and reduce the heat.  Allow it to simmer, uncovered, until it reaches the desired consistency.  This may take up to two hours.  Stir frequently and reduce the heat if it begins to stick to the bottom.

Once it reaches the thickness you want it to have, ladle the jam carefully into your awaiting (sanitized) jars, wipe the rims and cap your jars with snap lids and rings. Remember that when you are making jam without pectin, it won’t be quite as thick and “set” as what you are used to. The flavor will be far more intensely fruity.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes and make adjustments for your altitude.

#4 Ginger-Peach Jam

ginger peach jam

This one has a bit of a pepper-y bite. It’s a very nice glaze on grilled meat, and it’s also a nice condiment on sandwiches.

  • 8 pounds of fresh peaches
  • 4 cups of white or turbinado sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp of ginger
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice.

Directions

Prep your fruit by washing it carefully. If the peaches are not organic, make a baking soda rinse to help remove the pesticides.

Peel the peaches if you want to use them for making candy, otherwise you can just remove the pits and puree them, skins and all.

Smush your fruit.  You can do this with a potato masher, food processer, blender or food mill.  If you want, you can finely chop some of the fruit for added texture.

Layer the puree, chunks of fruit, and 2 cups of the white sugar in a large crock and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, line a colander with cloth and place it in a large bowl. Pour your fruit and sugar mixture into it and allow it to drain for at least 2 hours. The longer you let it drain, the thicker your resulting jam will be.

When you’re ready to make jam, place the drained mixture into a stockpot and bring it to a boil.  Reserve the juice for making syrup. Stir the mixture frequently.

Once it is boiling, stir in the rest of the sugar, the ginger, and the lemon juice and return to a boil. Immediately stir it and reduce the heat.  Allow it to simmer, uncovered, until it reaches the desired consistency.  This may take up to two hours.  Stir frequently and reduce the heat if it begins to stick to the bottom.

Once it reaches the thickness you want it to have, ladle the jam carefully into your awaiting (sanitized) jars, wipe the rims and cap your jars with snap lids and rings. Remember that when you are making jam without pectin, it won’t be quite as thick and “set” as what you are used to. The flavor will be far more intensely fruity.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes and make adjustments for your altitude.

#5 Peach Delight Syrup

When you make jam using the no-pectin recipes above, you’ll have a lovely by-product: a delicious, sweetened juice. It’s easy to turn that juice into a syrup that will make your pancakes and waffles sing like a choir or angels.

Because you will end up with different amounts of juice every time, it’s easier to tell you “how” to make syrup as opposed to giving a recipe.

Measure your juice.  Whatever the amount of juice you have, divide by 2.  This is the amount of sugar you will add to make the syrup. For example: If you have 4 cups of juice, you’ll add 2 cups of sugar. If you have a good source of honey, it is even yummier. Use the same rule – measure out half the amount of juice, in honey.

If you want, you can be creative. You can add spices like cinnamon or ginger, or a dash of vanilla extract.

In a large stockpot, bring the mixture to a boil. Stir frequently to keep the mixture from sticking.

Allow it to boil down for at least 30 minutes, but more likely an hour, until it reaches a syrup-y consistency.

Ladle the syrup into your awaiting (sanitized) jars, wipe the rims and cap your jars with snap lids and rings.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes and make adjustments for your altitude. You may can this along with your jam, since it takes the same amount of time.

#6 Spicy Peach Jam

spicy peach jam

This is another family favorite and probably my most requested Christmas gift.  Hot jalapenos added to peaches and brown sugar make a sweet and spicy creation to be served over a soft cheese.  This recipe was originally published at The Organic Prepper. It is nearly identical to the Brown Sugar Peach Preserves above, however, I  haven’t been able to make it the right consistency without added pectin. I recommend Pomona’s Universal Pectin, since it’s non-GMO. Don’t be put off by the higher price – 1 package of Pomona’s is enough for several batches of jam.

I use half pint jars, which is the perfect amount to pour over cream cheese or yogurt cheese.  This sophisticated appetizer is best served with simple,  hearty whole grain crackers.  

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds of fresh peaches
  • 2 cups of white or turbinado sugar
  • 2 cups of brown or muscavado sugar
  • pectin
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped jalapeno peppers – include seeds for a spicier flavor

Directions:

Prep your fruit by washing it carefully. If the peaches are not organic, make a baking soda rinse to help remove the pesticides.

Smush your fruit.  You can do this with a potato masher, food processer, blender or food mill.  For this particular jam, I like to puree most of the fruit (including the skins) and then finely chop some of the fruit for added texture.

Follow the directions on your specific brand of pectin – regular pectin will differ from Pomona’s.

In a stockpot, stir the peach puree, peach chunks, lemon and pectin together well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Once it is boiling, stir in the jalapenos, brown sugar and the rest of the white sugar and return to a boil  until it reaches the desired consistency.

Ladle the jam carefully into your awaiting (sanitized) jars, wipe the rims and cap your jars with snap lids and rings.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes and make adjustments for your altitude.

#7 Peach Fruit Leather

If you have some peaches that are mushy, but not rotten, this is a great way to use them up.

Wash your peaches, then peel them, and remove the pit.

Puree the peaches. If you want, you can add a splash of lemon juice and some sugar.  A friend of mine likes to add vanilla. Don’t add too much liquid, though – you’re going to be dehydrating this.

Use either parchment paper or non-stick liners
for your dehydrator.

Pour the puree onto the trays and smooth it with a spatula until it is very thin. You can leave it slightly thicker at the edges, as they usually dry well before the centers do.

Set your dehydrator at 135 and leave it overnight. (My fruit leather usually takes about 8-10 hours to dry completely.)

#8 Peach Pit Iced Tea

peach pit tea

Don’t throw out your peach pits!  Not only can you have peach tea right now, you can have it throughout the year.  Dry the pits in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour and store them in a tightly closed glass jar.

When you want to make tea, steep a handful of pits (about 1 per cup) in boiling water.  You can steep them overnight for the most flavor. The next day, discard the pits and use this peach-flavored water to make iced tea as you normally would.

You can also steep peach pits in boiling water and serve immediately, sweetened with honey, for a hot beverage.

#9 Peach Infused Liquor

peach infused liquor

Here’s another use for those peach pits!

We use infused liquors for Christmas presents. If you start it now, it will be perfect just in time for the holidays.

In true “moonshine” tradition, we use Mason jars for infusing the alcohol.  Peach flavor is nice with either whiskey or vodka.

Fill the bottom of a 2 quart mason jar with peach pits. You can pile as many in as you want to.  I usually make a layer about 3 pits deep.

Fill the jar with alcohol, leaving at least an inch or more at the top. Put it in a cool dark place and give it a shake whenever you think about it.

When you’re ready for gift-giving season, line a colander with fabric. (I have some natural cotton flour sack towels that I use for this purpose.)  Strain the alcohol into a large pot.

You can decant it as is into pretty containers (the thrift store is a great source!) or you can make it a liqueur.

To make a liqueur, make a simple syrup. (A simple syrup is 1 part sugar to 2 parts water).  Use equal parts infused alcohol and syrup.  Heat slightly to combine, but don’t boil it.

Last step: brace yourself for accolades and adoration from your friends who are lucky enough to get one of these bottles.

#10 Fuzzy Peach Peel Candy

peach peel candy

Not one drop of peach preciousness goes to the compost pile, unless it’s some weird mushy bit that isn’t good for eating.

When peeling peaches to make jam or to can, save up the peels. You can make a delicious candy to satisfy your kids’ urges for those HFCS-laden “fuzzy peach” candies.

Ingredients:

  • Peach peels
  • Lemon juice
  • Turbinado sugar (the crunchy crystals are way nicer for this than a finer sugar)

Directions

peach peels

Place all of your peels in a large bowl. Add lemon juice based on the amount of peels you have. I had peels from 20 pounds worth of peaches and used 1/8 cup of lemon juice.  Toss peels in juice.

In another bowl, put a little bit of turbinado sugar.

sprinkle with sugar

Toss a large spoonful of peach peels in the sugar and then place them in a single layer on the tray of a dehydrator. Continue until all of the peels have been tossed with the sugar.

peaches in dehydrator

Dehydrate at 135 for 6-8 hours.
Store in an airtight container.

How do you preserve peaches?

Share your delicious ideas in the comments below!

Resources

Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator, Black

Pack of 9 Premium 14″ x 14″ Non-Stick Dehydrator Sheets- For Excalibur 2500, 3500, 2900 or 3900

Natural Flour Sack Towel- 28in X 29in

Granite Ware 0718-1 Enamel-on-Steel Canning Kit, 9-Piece

The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm

The Little Cyanide Cookbook; Delicious Recipes Rich in Vitamin B17

Daisy Luther

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy Luther lives on a small organic homestead in Northern California.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper's Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy's articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

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