PASSION for PEACHES
Ahhhhh summer time – FINALLY! And in my house you know the start of this glorious season has truly begun when you walk into my kitchen and you see all the overflowing bowls on my table and countertop filled with ripe delicious peaches and nectarines!
Nothing says to me more “long-lazy-summer-afternoon”, than seeing a basket full of those reddish/ brown luscious fruits in my local farmers market or grocery store. Without fail my mouth starts to water and my senses start to tingle with excited anticipation for the first taste of all that deliciousness that is the peach.
If I were to track my long time Passion for everything Peaches, I would have to go back to those early summers when I was a just a kid, and my family would spend those last two weeks between camp and the start of elementary school at my cousin Georges farm in a small town near Hudson, NY. Those two weeks were nothing but fun filled days of me & my sister with my twin cousins our age Mic & Gabe , playing for hours on end in their peach orchards. There is no fruit that can come close to compare in my opinion, to the yumminess of a peach when picked ripe straight off the vine, biting into it and letting the sticky sweet tart juice run down your chin. I cannot even begin to count how many peach pits my cousin’s and I sucked dry and kept in glass jars for some important reason I don’t remember now. My nostalgia always run strong when I smell that peach aroma and remember those seemingly endless days of playing serious games of hide and seek, or just sitting for hours amongst the shaded peach trees hanging out and having fun.
But alas, those days of eating peaches straight off the vine have come to an unfortunate end for me. For the summer that I turned 12, I found out that I was severely allergic to the new pesticides that the US FDA had approved and I could no longer enjoy my favorite fruit that was covered in them. However, having no will power what so ever and much to my mother’s chagrin, those tasty fruit had a strong hold over me. I would take dozens of them and soak them in water for hours, hoping to rinse that pesky pesticide away. Peeking through puffy eyes, I would cut my fingers peeling them so carefully, thinking if I could just get the skin off perfectly, I could still enjoy the rest of the fruit. After many Benadryl shots later, my mother had had enough of my sorry attempts and empathetically decided to see, since I wasn’t allergic to peach jams, that if she cooked the peaches could I handle them.
Here my friends is where my Passion for Peaches joined my love for cooking and how I spend hours (in gloves) peeling my precious peaches, so I can cook them and enjoy them in some of my all-time favorite summer dishes. Whereas I realize it is not the same as eating them raw, those succulent fruits are still quite delicious when cooked and added to some delicious ingredients like ice cream, pastries, fish, or salads. They make everything taste sweet & savory and wonderfully just a little bit like summer.
Here are some of my favorite ways to eat cooked Peaches
Happy Cooking! Sarah
Roasted Peaches with Nutty Ice Cream &
I am addicted to broiled/roasted peaches. I make a batch of them every Friday morning and I treat myself to them throughout Shabbos. I eat them as a snack plain out of the Tupperware, or throw them in yogurt and salads, or just serve them up for a simple dessert with a dash of whip cream . But when I have company I love to serve them this really easy delicious summer dessert that’s always is a big hit.
4 ripe Peaches, sliced into 1inch thick sections
1 tbsp. raw sugar
Favorite Vanilla Ice Cream
½ cup crushed walnuts or pecans
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Put your oven on high broil
Lay your peach slices onto a sprayed cookie sheet. Sprinkle peaches generously with the raw sugar. Put in oven and roast for about 2-3 minutes until sugar has caramelized . Watch the peaches carefully as not to burn them. Remove from oven and set aside. When cooled store half in airtight container and reserve other half for peach sauce.
Precut 5 squares of plastic wrap and lay them on your counter for easy access. Put your crushed nuts onto a paper plate. Put on gloves and working quickly scoop out balls of vanilla ice cream. Roll ice cream ball into the nuts generously coating with nuts. Place onto one square of pre-cut plastic and wrap ice cream ball tightly . Place in between palm of your hands and gently smoosh and flatten your ice cream ball into a round hockey puck shape. Place back into freezer immediately. Repeat and continue to desired amount of ice cream servings are made.
Take half of your roasted peaches and place in food processor. Add the lemon juice and if desired another tsp. of sugar for extra sweetness. Pulse until peaches are totally smoothed into a sauce like consistency. Remove and store in airtight container.
To serve: Unwrap nutty ice cream and lay on plate. Top with sliced roasted peaches and add peach sauce generously and serve immediately.
Tip: Peaches last up to 2 weeks in airtight container in fridge . The sliced peaches can be frozen but when defrosted they will be a lot mushier because of water content. The peach sauce freezes beautifully.
Grilled Tilapia with Peach & Nectarine Chutney
Believe it or not Fish and Fruit is a great fresh tasting summertime meal combination. I often see a lot of fish recipes with fruit relish toppings which are all cold and not cooked. Because of my allergies I had to tweak these recipes and create chutney to top my simple fish with. This recipe works best on white fishes like tilapia and sea bass and have even used it as a topping for plain grilled chicken.
4 pieces of Fresh Tilapia Fillets
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt & Fresh ground black pepper
1 small red onion, sliced thin
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic, minced
2 peaches, diced into cubes
2 nectarines diced into cubes
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup sweet white wine (like a moscato)
Fresh salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges as garnish
In a frying pan on med-high heat your olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of your tilapia generously with salt and pepper. Add the fish one piece at a time into the hot olive oil and cook your fish about 3-4 minutes on each side. Or until fish is cooked. Remove to platter and set aside.
In the same frying pan , add the olive oil for the chutney and heat on med high. Using a wooden spoon scrape up any cooked bits that are on the bottom of the pan and mix into the oil. Add the sliced onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes until onions have cooked. Add the garlic mix with onions and sauté for another 30 seconds and then add the diced peaches and nectarines. Mix and sauté everything for about 4 minutes then add the orange juice and white wine. Let the mixture cook down until the juices have mostly evaporated and thickened with the fruit, about another 4-5 minutes.
Remove from flame and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of freshly grilled tilapia.
Peaches and Nectarines Cooking Tips:
Peaches and nectarines are truly interchangeable. These Stone-Fruit are such close kissing cousins that they sometimes even grow on the same tree. The difference between them is so small, that other than the fuzz that’s on the peach, you can hardly tell these fruits apart when eating them.
Peaches and nectarines are in season from April to October. However it is only from late June till early August that these tasty fruit are at their most lip-smacking best.
Most often peaches are sold not by variety but by the color of their flesh: white, yellow or red. A white peach has a very similar flavor to the yellow peach, just a different color of flesh, while the red-fleshed peach is more tart in flavor.
When picking peaches or nectarines you really must remember one rule – peaches DO NOT ripen in terms of getting sweeter -after they have been picked off the vine. So that being said , unlike avocadoes, if you purchase a peach that was picked before it was fully ripe it will not get any sweeter sitting in your house, so only buy ripe peaches for the best taste. You can tell a peach is going to be sweet, by looking at where the stem would be. If the area around the stem is even slightly greenish in color, your peach is not prime, make sure that the color is a nice reddish/brown/yellow for the best tasting peaches.
Do the feel test, using your hand palm the peach and chop a squeeze. If the peach is firm with yet has a little give all around but not too mushy soft, you got the perfect peach.
Do the smell test, take a sniff of your peach, if it fragrant and really smells like a peach than you know it is ripe for the choosing. If it has no smell it will have no taste.
It pays to send a little extra time picking your peaches even if you will be cooking them instead of eating them raw, be choosy when you purchase you will be thankful when you taste.
Buy what you need – Peaches do not last long and tend to rot quickly, so buy what you need and use them up before purchasing more.
It is best to store your peaches at room temperature for the best tasting results. However, If you have Peaches that are overly ripe and want to get a little more shelf life out of them, keep them refrigerated up to 3-5 days.
Peaches Freeze great only if you are planning to use them for recipes not for eating raw. The best way to freeze peaches to use later in the winter is :
Peaches must be packed in a solution of water and sugar or fruit juice. It’s up to you which to use. Sugar is added to improve flavor, help stabilize color, and retain the shape of the fruit. You only need enough solution to cover the peaches; about 1 cup per quart. It is not added as a preservative; but the solution does prevent drying, freezer burn and oxidation (browning). Grape or apple juice works great and is a natural alternative to using processed sugar! This was a great tip that I got from American Test Kitchen.
Did you know that the phrase peachy-cream complexion comes from the nutritional benefits of eating peaches who are full of beta-carotene which does wonders for your skin.