But Ya ARE, Blanche

Blanching1With peaches, tomatoes and plums in season right now, you’re probably preparing to do some serious canning and preserving. But, what to do about those pesky thin skins that can add a bitter taste to your food and are so difficult to remove? An experienced canner or pie maker will be able to give you the answer right away: Blanching. It’s the sure fire way to get those skins off without driving yourself crazy.

Trying to scrape off the skins with a traditional peeler can end up removing a lot of the fruit along with the skin or worse, leave you with a hand full squashed, mushy fruit. Blanching can also be used to remove the tough skins from nuts and even prepare certain vegetables, like green beans, for freezing. In this case, the blanching stops the action of the enzymes and bacteria present in the vegetables that can eventually sap their nutrients and noticeably modify the color, taste and texture of your frozen produce.

While blanching isn’t an exact science as the processing times can vary fruit to fruit, there are some very important steps you want to be sure to remember. Here is a breakdown of the blanching process for easy fruit skin removal.

Fill a large pot with water and put it on the stove to boil. 

While waiting for your water to boil, wash your fruit to remove any pesticides. (With most thin-skinned fruits it’s best to buy organic if you can since the soft skin allows the pesticides to soak into the fruit. Yikes!) Then, cut a small, shallow “X” in the bottom of the fruit for easy peeling later. 

Blanching2

Fill a large bowl with ice water. If your sink is close to your stove you may use it for your ice water instead. The sink method is especially handy if you are processing a lot of fruit at once. 

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Once your water on the stove is at a rolling boil, carefully place your fruit in to the water using a slotted spoon. Don’t just drop those boys in there (For some delicate fruits like peaches and tomatoes, I often turn the water off, but leave it on the stove to avoid bruising.) Leave your fruit in the water anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute depending on the ripeness of the fruit. A good way to tell if your fruit is ready to come out is check out the “X” you cut in the bottom of it. If the peel is starting to pull away naturally, it’s ready come out. 

Remove the fruit from the hot water with your slotted spoon and immediately transfer it to the ice water. This will halt the cooking process. Be careful since hot fruit can be prone to easy bruising! 

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After about 10 to 20 seconds, remove the fruit from the ice water and the skin should easily peel right off using your hands. If it does not, return the fruit to the boiling water for another 30 seconds or so and repeat steps 4 and 5.

Now that your fruit is skinned, you’re all ready to remove the seeds or pits and continue with your recipe.

[Ed: When Flynn and I photographed this piece, we somehow managed to find four mutant peaches that simply would not give up their skins, even after several minutes of blanching. That's why there's no image of beautifully peeled peaches at the end. But rest assured that 99% of the time, the skins slide off with incredible ease.]

Pesky Peach Skins

My husband and I canned a batch of peach salsa earlier this summer. I accidently bought clingstone peaches, which was enough of a problem, but they were cling-skin peaches, too! Despite blanching, we had a terrible time trying to get those skins off. It's fortunate we were planning to chop them up anyway because they were covered with ugly slashes and gouges by the end. But that's the only time I've ever had that problem. Blanching usually works fine!

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