A very sweet young vendor just gave me a fragrant peach today at our weekly farmer’s market. The scent immediately sent me back to my childhood, where in my backyard, in Nashville of all places, there grew a peach tree. We would wait for them to blossom and ripen anxiously before plucking that delicious fruit off the tree and sinking our teeth into the juice, that would run down our sticky chins and onto our t-shirts. (We also grew strawberries and okra that year, though those pursuits didn’t turn out quite as well. I’ll tell you the story sometime of how proud we were of our okras — growing so big. For anyone who knows anything about okra, which we clearly did not, bigger is not better.)
The kind act of unexpected generosity, from one who makes his living selling produce, got me dreaming of patroning his stand again very soon to make sure I invest in some more next week.
But what to do with all these glorious peaches?
First, learn a little about them, and share the knowledge with you, dear readers!
- Did you know that even though Georgia got the name, my new home state of California is by far the largest growers of peaches (and much other produce… I live in a salad bowl)!
- When purchasing, choose fragrant fruit (as if that should be a trying task) that gives just a little to pressure applied by your palm.
- You can store your peaches in a plastic bag for about 5 days in the fridge, but ripen that not-quite-ready fruit up at room temp, or try this little trick — stick them in a classic brown paper lunch bag to hasten the ripening, if you just can’t wait!
- The flavor is more intense at room temperature, so take the peaches out of the fridge a little before you plan on eating it.
- If you’re cooking them, remove the peel. It becomes a little tough when cooked, and could ruin grandma’s famous peach pie recipe. Dip it in boiling water (careful!) for 30 seconds or so, and a paring knife should then pull the skin right off. (You can also throw them in the microwave for 15 seconds or so if you’re in a hurry.) Once you’ve peeled, you might wish to place the peaches in cool water, so they don’t soften before you’re ready.
- The flesh will discolor, much like many fruits, after being cut so combine with an acid ingredient, such as citrus for your salad dressings.
Now, to eat! You’ll remember Becky’s delicious Blackberry and Peach cobbler. Or try the Cupcake Project’s Peaches and Cream cupcakes! (I just might have to this weekend surprise husband with a picnic basket including these delicious cakes.) There’s nothing better than an unadorned poached peach half with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream, but how about this recipe.
Combine 2 teaspoons minced crystallized ginger and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar. Crush the sugar into the ginger. Add 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 cup bourbon. Add 4 large firm peaches, peeled and cut into about 1/2-inch chunks, and coat with bourbon mixture.
Cover tight and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors soak in. Then let the peaches stand at room temp for 30 minutes before serving.
Serve this Southern treat with a dollop of whipped cream!
Now, I’m off to indulge in a gifted peachy treat! And maybe even let a little of that juice drip down onto my summer tee!
Now that’s just peachy keen!