Here's the secret no Southern cook wants you to know: As much pride as we have for our state's peaches, we all have a bag (or more) of frozen peaches hidden away in the deep freeze. Yes, a peak-season peach is worthy of songs and stories of longing, but frozen peaches are a steadfast staple of Southern cooks in the know.
A Note on Frozen Peaches vs. Canned Peaches
First of all, let me be clear that I'm talking about frozen peaches, not canned peaches. Canned peaches have their own fan club, and I admit some of the best peaches I've ever eaten were home-canned by somebody's MawMaw. But canned peaches are cooked peaches, even if they were raw packed. For smoothies and savory applications, frozen peaches are unsweetened and ready to cook.
Frozen peaches are already peeled, pitted, and sliced.
You call it lazy, but I call it being efficient. Sometimes I just need a few sliced peaches for a smoothie or I want to get a cobbler in the oven before dinner. Both of these can be done in less time (and involve no thawing) with frozen peaches. Bonus: There's no peeler to wash.
Frozen peaches are more reliable than their fresh counterparts.
Some summers I can eat through a dozen peaches and never have that "peach juice dripping down my arm, eyes closed in delight" moment. The weather might have had an ill effect on the peach crop, or I might be having bad peach luck. With frozen peaches, I know what I'm getting every time. Freezing and thawing also breaks down the fruit's cells, making them taste more juicy — even if they aren't as sweet as those song-worthy peaches.
Freezer peaches are available year-round.
There are times when you need a peach pie in January — like, say, your 5-year-old requests one for her birthday — and you really cannot find fresh peaches. Freezer peaches to the rescue! Plus, they just need a quick thaw before baking.
Frozen peaches are cheaper than off-season peaches.
Fresh peaches are prized for about one month every year, and during this time you can buy them for pennies on the pound. But if you've ever purchased peaches in the spring or fall, then you know they are expensive and about as bland as styrofoam. My bags of frozen peaches are the same price year-round. Yes, I'm paying a premium for someone else peeling, pitting, and slicing them, but I'm also getting tastier peaches.
Now is the time to buy peaches and put them up. Stock your own freezer with our peach freezing lesson.
Your turn — do you have a favorite frozen fruit?