Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blanching fruit (peaches)

This may be fairly common knowledge to anyone that is a baker/cook, or slightly more into the culinary arts than me... but I had to look it up, so I assume others may too.  I have used whole berries, fruit purees and flavor extracts in the past, with some good results (not so much with the extracts).  Living in the middle of Pennsylvania's farmland, I have access to some good fruit.  I am not a huge fruit beer fan, but I do feel there are places where fruit can round out or even add to a beer, especially in sours.  I wanted to take one of the more common crops in my area (peaches) and try to create a sour peach beer, and while there already is a Peach Berliner out there, I figured I could make something in the same vein, but perhaps unique to me.  The plan is to reuse my existing Berliner recipe and a fresh pitch of Wyeast Berliner Blend, but age the beer with pounds and pounds of peaches.  I was given roughly 5 pounds of unknown peaches from my in-laws neighbors.  They we rather unattractive, but very ripe, and very tasty.  5 pounds, with pits, is not enough to impart the flavor I am looking to get in the beer.  I went to a local Amish farmer who I visit semi-regularly for a larger stockpile.  I got almost 20 pounds of amazing redskin peaches from Ike.  They were actually amazing to look at.

So, the first step was to freeze the peaches.  Thankfully I have a chest freezer that is generally only 1/2 full for frozen foods and whatnot, since hunting season has not started, it is actually only about 1/4 full.  I do this step to start the cell wall breakdown of the fruit.  Once frozen solid (24-48 hours), I
added the whole peach to a boiling pot of water.  Once the peaches are added, the boils will subside or stop since these are frozen peaches after all.  Once the boil starts again in like 2 minutes, I start my timer.  5 minutes in an active boils should be long enough.  Directly from the boil, I add the peaches into a waiting bowel of ice water and allow to rest about 5-10 minutes.  At this point, the fruit is cold to the touch, and the skin should slide right off.  I then just remove the pit and loosely break apart the tender fruit in another waiting bowel.  Once I do this to about 10-12 peaches, I add them to a waiting 1 gallon freezer bag, label it, and it is sent back to the freezer to wait for its final home in a primaried sour beer.

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