Did you overbuy at the farmers market? Go to a peach u-pick? Plan to put some perfectly ripe summer peaches in the freezer to enjoy them later when their sunburst flavor will brighten a chilly autumn night or gray winter's night? Imagine being served barely defrosted frozen peach slices over ice cream in an over-heated apartment in the dead of winter's February. It is all brightness and warmth and summer. It is an excellent argument for freezing peaches.
Luckily, freezing peaches is as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Prepare the peaches for freezing by peeling and slicing them.
While peeling isn't technically necessary, your future self will thank you heartily for having had the foresight to peel the peaches now. Being able to pop the peaches directly from the freezer into smoothies or pies or onto ice cream is part of the argument to freeze them in the first place.
If you just have a few peaches, see How to Slice Peaches for an easy way to slice then peel the peaches; if you're working with 4 or more peaches, you might want to go with peeling then slicing as shown in How to Peel Whole Peaches.
2. Lay the peeled peach slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.
If you want to minimize clean-up, go ahead and line the baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper first. The key is to keep the peaches in a single layer. The less they touch the better, too. This will allow the cold of the freezer to work as quickly as it can, and evenly, on all the peach slices. The faster they freeze, the better the final texture of the peaches. Plus, they will freeze individually and not in a clump, making them easier to use in the end.
3. Set the baking sheet in a freezer until peaches are frozen through.
This will take at least four hours and up to overnight, depending on your freezer. Stand-alone or deep freezers will work faster, above-refrigerator freezers will take a bit more time.
Transfer the frozen peach slices to a resealable plastic bag and seal. Push out as much air as possible (if you want to get serious, seal the bag all the way except room for a straw, insert a straw, and suck out as much remaining air as you can before sealing the bag fully); return the peaches to the freezer until you're ready to use them. If you have a vacuum-sealer, this would be an excellent time to use it.
Frozen peaches will keep up to 6 months in a refrigerator-freezer combo and up to 12 months in a stand-alone freezer.
How to Use Frozen Peaches
Use frozen peaches in baked goods or smoothies to add tart sweetness once peach season, fabulous as it is, is but a memory. No need to defrost them first, just use them as-is. Frozen peaches will, in fact, act as a thickener just like ice does in a smoothie. In pies and other baked goods, they will simply bake up thicker and sweeter than fresh.