I have a friend who once declared to me once, “Oh, I hate fruit!” Hate fruit? How is that possible? Especially with so many delicious peach recipes out there. That’s like saying I hate movies, or I hate dinner parties. Sure, some are better than others but to declare all fruit inedible? How sad!
Then, I thought of all the mamas out there begging their little ones to ‘try just a little bite?’ I myself once tried coaxing a picky cousin to believe that clementines were Nature’s Candy. And since my little bundle of joy will be here soon, I started thinking about my favorite fruits.
A trip to the farmers market and a swirl of ripe peach on the deeply perfumed late summer air. What oceans I would cross for a perfectly ripe peach! To bite through a snap of taught skin and release a rush of nectar so sweet, its no wonder the humble fruit has a been a metaphor in centuries of love poems!
SELECTING A PEACH Its just barely the end of summer, so the peaches currently at the market have been on the tree branches for a long time, meaning that in the hot summer sun, they have had the opportunity to develop lots of sugar. Choose peaches that smell deeply of peach. Even if they are still firm and a bit under ripe, you should smell peachiness. Find those free of deep bruises, have intact skin, and feel heavy for their size when you pick them up. Seek out white peaches for a truly delicious treat!
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PEACH QUIRKS The Mealy Peach • Alas, there are times when even I, a seasoned peach squeezer, go home with the picture perfect specimen only to bite in, and instead of a rush a sweet juice, I am met with a mouth of wet fur. Not real fur of course, but the flesh of a mealy peach. Like Cinderella at midnight, the mirage is broken and my peach is tossed into the compost. This phenomenon occurs when the peaches are harvested too early and put too long into refrigeration, resulting in the offensive mealy texture. Shopping at the farmers market nearly eradicates this risk.
The Freestone Peach • Unlike the mealy peach, I love to learn that I’ve picked up a bag of freestone peaches! As their name suggests, the freestone peach flesh releases easily from the pit in the center and the surrounding pulp in deeply red and flavorful. Their cousin, the clingstone peach, needs to be cut from the pit or the pit nibbled around. This distinction rests with the breed of the tree planted so if you are curious, ask the farmer at the market what she’s got growing.
Finally… Peaches in February • When I teach people about cooking and eating I regularly use the phrase “peaches in February” to describe our modern expectation of delicious food year round, regardless of what nature has in mind. Certainly root vegetables can get a bit tiresome but running out to the grocery store and buying peaches flown in from all over the world has a huge carbon footprint and you are virtually guaranteed a mealy, disappointing peach experience. Instead, put in a little work now and some dedicated freezer space and come February, you can have all the peaches you want!
FROZEN SUMMER PEACH SLICES Ingredients Water Lots of peaches Ice Lots of freezer space