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And just like that, it’s August and peach season. That’s a big deal where I live in northern Colorado. We love peaches!

Soon we’ll be enjoying Peach Street Fairs, Palisade Peach Festivals; peaches piled high in every store’s produce department and featured on nearly every restaurant’s menu.

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FREESTONE OR CLING?

While there are many varieties of peaches, basically there are two types: If a peach is “freestone” it means the stone falls right off of the flesh when it’s cut. A “clingstone” will stick to the pit.

Freestones are larger, juicier, sweeter and easier to work with in the kitchen since the pit pops right out of a ripe peach. Many store-bought yellow and white peaches fall into this category. One of the most famous is the Georgia peach.

Clingstone peaches—peaches that are harder to pit because the pit firmly adheres to the flesh—are mostly used for canning.

Fresh peaches are available nationwide starting in late July until the first or second week of September.

IS IT RIPE?

The only way to know for sure if a peach is fully matured is by delicately feeling it to test for ripeness.

Peaches are categorized as “climacteric fruit”. That means that peaches will ripen (get softer and sweeter) after they have been harvested.

Other fruits, for example, grapes, cherries, strawberries and raspberries are “non-climacteric fruit”; once harvested, they never ripen further.

A ripe peach will have a pleasingly sweet fragrance.

Very gently, hold a peach between your thumb and middle finger and press very lightly at the stem end of the peach. Be careful not to squeeze the peach as it will bruise easily. One delicate squeeze is all that is needed. If the fruit indents slightly, the peach is fully ripe and ready to eat!

HOW TO STORE

  • On the Kitchen Counter Unripe: 1 to 3 days or until ripe
  • In the Refrigerator Once Ripe: 3 – 5 days
  • In the Freezer or Canned : Up to 1 year

PEACH PEEL

This is an amazing tip and so much better than trying to peel fresh peaches with a knife or vegetable peeler.

Set a big pot of water on the stove over high heat. While you’re waiting for it to come to a boil, fill the sink or large bowl with ice water so it’s ready to go.

Drop the peaches into the boiling water and count to 30. That’s it, just 30 seconds. Carefully remove the from the boiling water and immediately drop the into the ice water. Watch what happens. The skins will split open and nearly fall off all by themselves. It’s quite fun to watch and oh, what a time saver.

HOW TO PIT A PEACH

Removing the pit (seed) from a peach is a no-brainer, really, especially if you have a freestone variety peach. Using a paring knife, pierce the peach where the stem was attached, slicing it along the seam all the way around the fruit. Your knife will naturally hit the pit and it will become your guide for stabilizing the cut. Place each half of the peach in either hand. Twist the halves in opposite directions. Pull the halves apart to reveal the pit. Pull the pit away from the flesh with your fingers.

GRILLED PEACHES

Peaches take to the grill like fish to water. Pop a peeled and pitted fresh peach half on the grill, cut side down. Allow it remain there long enough to show grill marks. That’s it!  The quick cooking over live flames brings out their natural juiciness and intensifies their deep summer sweetness—perfect for an arugula salad or served with ice cream for dessert.

PEACH FREEZER JAM

This is quick and easy. Get out five 8-oz. jars with lids and make sure they are clean and dry. Next assemble these ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons instant pectin
  • Peel, pit and coarsely chop the peaches. 

Place the peaches a bowl of a food processor and pulse until you reach a chunky puree. (Don’t have a food processor? Use a potato masher to mash them up in a large bowl.) You should end up with about 3 1/2 cups of puree.

Pour the puree into a large bowl and add the lemon juice and stir well. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Gradually add the pectin to prevent lumps and stir very, very well. Try using a whisk here.

Spoon the jam into clean jars with tight fitting lids making sure you leave about 1/2-inch of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion in the freezer. Allow the jars to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes to set. Store the jam in the refrigerator or the freezer. The jam will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks and in the freezer for up to a year.

PEACH COBBLER

  • 7 medium ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 18-ounce cake mix, yellow or your choice, unprepared
  • 1 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar, 1 teaspoon ginger and cornstarch. Bring the peach mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from stove. Pour the peach mixture into the prepared pan. Stir the remaining 2 teaspoons of ginger into the dry cake mix and sprinkle it over the top. Drizzle the melted butter over the cake mix.

Bake the cobbler for 1 hour or until the top is lightly browned and the peaches are bubbling. Serve with ice cream.

PEACH PIE

  • 1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked and cooled
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups fresh peaches, pitted and mashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups fresh peaches – pitted, skinned, and sliced

Combine sugar, water, cornstarch, butter or margarine, mashed peaches, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until clear and thick. Stir in vanilla.

Fill pie shell with sliced fresh peaches, alternating with the glaze. Refrigerate.

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