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  • Writer's pictureToni Kenyon

Preserving the Peach Harvest

There's nothing like channeling your inner Laura Ingalls-Wilder...

If peach season doesn't do it, nothing will :-)

I have a variety of fast-growing, high-producing, free stone peach that was given to me as a seedling by my father-in-law. Actually, he gave me three seedlings and now we have four trees (plus assorted new seedlings) growing in the garden.

I wasn't sure what variety these trees were. The only thing I knew about them was that they grew true-to-type from a stone and that they all ripened within days of each other. They bruise easily when they come off the tree, but they are hardy and need absolutely no help whatever, so are perfect for my kind of 'hands off' gardening style.

Oh and I did I mention that they're also the sweetest peaches I've ever tasted.

Much sleuthing and I discovered from Koanga Institute's website, that they are most likely a river peach described below:

"Our River peaches are the original peaches that came from Tibet, and are the same peaches that are grown in Kazakstan and all over Central Asia, they are genetically stable and grow true to seed. They came to this land with the very early ship captains and we had large peach orchards at least around Northland when the first missionaries arrived.

"They have now been through a process of human and natural selection for over 150 years and here at Koanga we believe they are way the best peaches around. They are not great for commercial production because they have have not been selected to keep for long periods, and often bruise easily, and sometimes don’t even look that flash… but they are awesome for home gardeners and people who care about their health….. they taste the best, are the easiest to grow organically by far, have the heaviest crops and are actually able to nourish us.

"They are the real deal… the best peaches in the world, if you don’t have one in your garden you are missing something very special."

So I do, in fact, feel very blessed to have these peaches passed to me by my father-in-law. Interesting side note, he has been growing them for years and these particular seedlings came from Kawau Island, where their micro-climate is very similar to the micro-climate that I am growing them in now.

With the addition of beehives to the garden, this year's crop appears to have quadrupled... Thank you little busy bees!

I preserve the peaches the simplest way that I can, not unlike the way I garden.

We eat minimal sugar, so my preserving methods are not quite mainstream, but they work for us:

  • First, I quarter the peaches

  • Then I fill a preserving pot with as many as it will take

  • Add a dash of water--not too much because heat will release liquid from the fruit

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of honey (or sugar if that's all you have on hand) to the pot--add more to taste if you prefer your fruit really sweet

  • Heat up, taking care not to burn the fruit on the bottom

  • Once you've got a good boil going, stir the fruit mixture up to expose the top fruit to the heat below

  • Repeat the above step a couple of times until all the fruit softens

  • Give it all one last thorough boil

  • Turn off the heat and leave the lid on the pot until the mixture cools.

  • When cool, add to sterilised bottles, or clean plastic containers or bags. If you use bottles and you're going to freeze your fruit mixture, make sure you don't overfill the bottles or they will explode...ask me how I know this! If in doubt, just leave the top loose (or off) until the contents have frozen. They will expand as they freeze

  • Store a bottle for immediate use in the fridge

  • The balance we store in the freezer (yes, we have a large freezer!)

And there you go, like so many things about the way I garden, it's unconventional. But that's what I love about gardening...there really are no rules!

Tell me about your preserving experiences. Good ones, bad ones, I'm all ears.

Love Toni xx


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