Monday, August 6, 2012

Honeyed Peach Pie Filling (for freezing)

I missed the "Peach Jam" at McConnell's Family Farm on Sunday, July 29, 2012 hosted by Slow Food Pittsburgh--but I've done a little stocking up on peaches for the winter on my own.  I made the filling for a peach pie, which I'll freeze and pull out one of those gloomy days in mid-November or beginning of February when we could use a little sweet peach sunshine.  I call it "Pop-in-the-Pan" Peach Filling because the idea is that you freeze the filling in a pie plate so that you can pop it right in pastry-lined pie pan, pop on a top crust and bake it without much fuss at all.  Great for unexpected company!  The recipe is fairly basic; you can try this with any pie filling you'd like--I've made blueberry and strawberry pies this way.  This recipe make filling for two pies.  You can double that if you have a lot of peaches (or cut it in half if you want to make only one pie).  Oh, and you could just go ahead and make a peach pie with this recipe, too. If that's the case, then I'd skip the ascorbic acid step.

Pop-in-the-Pan Honeyed Peach Pie Filling for Freezing
2 quarts peeled fresh peaches, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid*
1/2 gallon water
1/2-3/4 cup honey, depending on how sweet the peaches are
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca, finely ground in a spice mill
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the peaches in a large container.  Dissolve the ascorbic acid in the water and pour over the peaches.  Drain.  Combine the peaches, honey, tapioca, lemon juice and salt.  

Line two pie plates with heavy-duty aluminum foil, extending the foil about 5 inches over the rims.  Divide the filling evenly between the pans.  Fold the foil loosely over the filling and place in freezer until filling is frozen (about 4 hours) Remove from freezer, take the filling from the pie plates and wrap the foil snugly around filling.  Label with directions for baking (see below) and place in freezer bags.  

*NOTE:  I didn't have any powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C on hand), which prevents the peaches from browning,  so I ground up some vitamin C tablets (ascorbic acid is vitamin C, after all).  That's not ideal because the tablets include some filler used to keep the tablet intact.  If, like me, you don't have any powdered ascorbic acid around and don't want to use vitamin C tablets, you can use lemon juice or vinegar instead. The peaches will likely turn a bit browner with the lemon juice (and vinegar may add some acidic notes to the final filling flavor).  Use 1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar for 1/2 gallon of water.

To bake:  Remove the foil from the filling and place it, unthawed, in a pastry-lined pie plate (the same size that you used to form the filling).  Dot with 1-2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon (or nutmeg) if you'd like.  Add top crust, flute edges and add vent holes. (Or! check out my handy all-butter pie crust recipe and "rustic" fold-the-top-over method of forming the top crust.)  Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until bubbly. (You might need to tent the crust with foil to keep from over-browning.)

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