In Season Now: Peaches

Peaches are delicious, and while there’s nothing wrong with cooking using the canned variety, it’s always worth adding a bit more fresh fruit to your diet.

Today we’ll be taking you through the ins and outs of this favourite fruit, including what to look for in a good peach, how to prepare them and how to cook them in a variety of different ways.

How to choose fresh peaches

When you’re looking at a big pile of fruit down at the market, how should you choose the freshest and best peaches?

Source: NJ Wild

First, use your eyes.  Most peach varieties have a white or golden colouration when ripe – the reddish or rosy blush is just for variety. White peaches tend to be a bit sweeter than golden peaches, though the golden peaches tend to be more tart, with a stronger “peachy” flavour and aroma.  Avoid the underripe green peaches.

A well-defined cleft is also a good indicator of a mature peach.  As always, avoid peaches with blemishes or bruises.

Next, use your sense of touch.  Mature peaches should be soft to the touch, with a bit of give to their skin, but not bruised or mushy.  Firm peaches (as in the “hard as a rock” variety) need a bit more ripening.  Try not to squeeze peaches too much when selecting them, as they bruise quite easily.

Finally, use your sense of smell.  Good peaches should have a sweet fragrance, and for a very good reason… read on to learn why!

Fun peach facts

Did you know that as a member of the stone fruit family, peaches are distant relatives of roses?

Image source: beautifulgardener

It certainly brings a new layer of meaning to that Shakespeare quote about smelling sweet, no matter what the name…

Peaches also have a special significance in traditional Chinese culture for being associated with health and long life, with the standout example being the legendary Peaches of Immortality.

How to peel peaches

It can be a little tricky getting the peel off of sticky and fresh peaches, but there is a fairly quick and easy method to try:

Source: Beantown Baker

Start by taking your peaches and scoring an X shape into their base.  No need to cut too deep, and be careful with the sharp knife.

Next, get two pots of water.  Chill one to an icy cold temperature, and bring the other to a rolling boil.

Source: Flickr

Place your peaches in the hot water and let them boil for a short while – between 30 seconds and a minute.  This blanches the peaches, separating the skins from the flesh.

Using a ladle or spoon, transfer the peaches from the hot water to the cold water, to cool them back down so they don’t end up completely pre-cooked.

Source: Beantown Baker

When you’re ready, take the peaches and using the X-shaped scoring you made before, gently peel away the skin.  Be careful, as the peaches may be slippery.

Now you should be left with a set of peeled peaches, ready to be prepared however you wish!

Speaking of which…

How to cook peaches – our favourite peach recipes!

Cooking with fruit isn’t always for everyone – after all, heating and drying out foodstuffs known for their juicy sweetness can seem counter-productive.  However, while the cooking process does change the consistency and taste of many fruits, it can also sharply intensify certain flavours, giving your dishes that bit of extra zing.

If you need inspiration for putting these peaches to good use, here’s a list of peach recipes from the talented community here at Best Home Chef:

Mini Peach Melba Cheesecakes by Sarah Lewis

A dessert that involves peaches, macadamia biscuits AND philly cheese?  Don’t mind if I do…  The strawberry sauce is also a nice touch.

Peach Cheesecake by Angela H

I’m a sucker for most forms of cheesecake, but this one is something special in that it’s actually cheese-free – that’s right, it’s vegan!  Adding a layer of peach slices is just the icing on the cake… literally!

Peach and Almond Puff Delight by Carole DeMaria

Adding ricotta and mascarpone to diced peaches and almonds results in a delightful (and great-looking) dessert!

Pork Loin Cutlets with Baked Peaches & Muscatells by Carole DeMaria

Carole’s second appearance in the list, this recipe pulls off the sometimes challenging feat of combining sweet and savoury.  Filomena describes it best in her review: “I think it’s a special occasion meal, not because it’s difficult to make, but because it’s so rich and delectable.”

Peach and Mango Pavlova Roulade by Razel Navarro

Can’t decide between peach or mango?  Why not do both?  Then wrap them up in a delicious log, topped with pistachios and mint.

Banana, Coconut and Peach Loaf by Jennifer Howard

If you like banana bread, you’ll love it with the addition of peaches and coconut, creating a fruity smorgasbord in loaf form.  Nice and moist!

Got a peach recipe of your own to share?  Grab some in-season peaches, cook it up, and share the pictures and recipe with the community here at Best Home Chef!

And now, to finish with a song:

Mark Bristow
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Mark Bristow

Mark is the proud owner of an impractically large paella pan, and enjoys putting strange new twists on classic recipes. Google+

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  • Mark I read that and I like it.It is very nice article.

    Reply

    by ANNA LINHART on 21/02/2014, 16:30
    ANNA LINHART