Have a peachy time with Michigan Fresh peaches

It's almost prime peach season, so now's the time to get prepared.

With phrases like pretty as a peach, peachy keen and everything’s peachy, it seems people think highly of the simple peach. Peaches are just a few weeks from being in-season, so there’s never been a better time to learn a little bit more about this popular fruit.

The Michigan Availability Guide produced by Michigan State University Extension  says fresh peaches are usually available mid-July through mid-September. Interestingly, peaches and nectarines are the same species but they are commercially viewed as different fruits. Peaches have distinguishing fuzz on their skin while nectarines don’t. Also, fresh nectarines are available a shorter span of time, only from mid-August through mid-September.

According to the Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh peach bulletin good peach varieties for freezing and canning include Crest Have, Red Haven, Allstar, Bellaire, Canadian Harmony, Goldstar, Fayette, Glohaven, Loring, Newhaven, Rio Oso Gem and Sunbeam peaches.

There are so many ways to use peaches. You can make peach jam, peach honey, peach marmalade, peach pickles and even peach relish. What is the difference between jams, jellies, preserves, marmalades and conserves?

  • Jam is made with crushed or chopped fruits. It is thick but not so thick that it can’t spreads easily. Jams are great for fillings.
  • Jelly is made from strained fruit juice and is firm enough to hold its shape. Jellies can also be made from ingredients other than fruit, such as herbs, tea, wine, liqueurs, flowers and vegetables.
  • Preserves contain large or whole pieces of fruit in a consistency that varies from thickness of honey to that of soft jelly.
  • Marmalade is simply tender jelly with small pieces of fruit or citrus peels.
  • Conserves are jam like products made with two or more fruits. A true conserve also has nuts and raisins

To prevent beautifully peeled peaches from turning dark, simply add one teaspoon of ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C, and one gallon of water or use commercial ascorbic acid and mix according to label directions. Then drain the fruit when you are ready to use it.

You can freeze, dry or can peaches. It is important to always follow directions carefully when preserving your peaches by using research based recipes found in updated Ball Blue Books, So Easy to Preserve, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving and updated Extension bulletins.

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