Fresh Peaches: Recipe and Tips
Posted by JENNIFER TUMILTY
Fresh Peaches: Recipe and Tips
Sweet, juicy, fragrant Canadian peaches. There is nothing like them. When summer is at its peak these beauties are finally ready to enjoy and they are so worth the wait. And enjoy them we do, all over our menus. Sweet to savoury, breakfast to late-night, in your hand, on your plate or in your glass, they belong everywhere.
Peach season, like a Canadian summer, goes by in a flash so grab them while you can. With a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy them all year long or whenever you need a taste of summer.
Buying Fresh Peaches
Peaches are picked under ripe and typically how you will find them at the market or store. Otherwise they would never make the trip to your kitchen (however short it might be) without being bruised.
If you are going to eat them (all of them) right away, then certainly look for the ripest ones you can. If you can smell their sweet scent and if they give slightly when touched they are ready to eat. However, if you have other plans, buying under ripe peaches is the better option.
Peaches only take a few days to ripen, depending on the temperature, so you won’t need to wait long. Under ripe peaches are better for certain uses like canning/preserving, freezing, grilling/roasting or chopping.
Storing Fresh Peaches
Peaches are best stored at room temperature because it maintains the smooth texture we adore. Storing peaches in the fridge isn’t wrong, you just might lose some of that fine texture. If you have a pile ripe at the same time and you can’t eat them fast enough, then definitely put them in the fridge. A peach from fridge is better than no peach at all. And way better than one you put in the compost.
Once a peach is ripe, storing in the fridge will give you about another week to enjoy.
Preparing Fresh Peaches
Wash them. Gently. No matter how perfect they look, please wash them.
Leaving the skin on or skin off is a personal preference. If you need or want more fibre then definitely leave them on, but the texture of the skin turns some people off. It might also depend on how you are using the peach whether you want the skin on or off.
The easiest method for peeling is to use a paring knife. A sharp quality paring knife makes a huge difference and allows you to get right under the skin and leave all the tasty flesh intact. A curved paring knife, also called a tourne knife or bird’s beak knife, is particularly adept at peeling fruits and vegetables. Using a peeler is also an option but how you hold the peach can get awkward (and slippery) as you remove more skin.
Another method is blanching – a short time in boiling then put in cold water - but this method only worth the effort if you are going to peel a large number of peaches at a time. Blanching is not recommended if your peaches are on the riper side of ripe as the heat will make the flesh even softer.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Mark an ‘X’ on the smooth end of the peach opposite the stem and gently drop into the simmering water for 1 minute. Remove from the water, a wire skimmer does great job of scooping out the peaches without bruising. Immediately dunk into cold water to stop the process until cool enough to handle. Use a paring knife to catch and pull back a strip of skin from where you made the ‘X’ or use both hands to gently pull back the skin.
To cut a peach work with the natural shape of the peach. Using a paring knife follow the line starting at the stem end around the tip and up the opposite side back to the stem. If your peaches are freestone the peach half should come away free easily. Pull out the pit and your halves are ready for slicing or dicing. If you have clingstone peaches, the halves won’t twist apart. Use your paring knife to cut slices against the pit and slightly twist your wrist to dislodge. Make sure you do this over a bowl or cutting board to catch all of the delicious juice.
How to prevent fresh peaches from turning brown?
Fresh peaches, once they are peeled or sliced, meaning when their delicious insides are exposed to air will start to turn brown. Not to worry. It is just the oxygen in the air playing with the peaches. The discolouration doesn’t affect the flavor of the peaches but isn’t visually appealing. The amount of time it takes for this to happen depends on a few factors.
Depending on how you are using the peaches, it might not matter. A peach pie can certainly handle a bit.
Wait until right before serving to peel or slice the peach is the simplest. However, that isn’t always practical if you are serving bowls full to hungry guests (or even just your family).
Your other option is to prevent the oxygen from playing with your peaches, which means you need to coat the peaches in something to protect them. Something acidic. Again it depends on how you are using the peaches what you want to use. Juice from any citrus fruit – lemon, lime, orange – will stop the process, but will also add flavour. Any alcohol or vinegar will also work, but again will add flavour.
Lemon juice diluted in cold water about 3 tbsp lemon juice with 4 cups of water. Let the peaches sit in the solution for 1-2 minutes and then drain.
Citric acid or ascorbic acid can also be used, follow the instructions on the package for proper dilution.
Too many fresh peaches?
Yes, it happens. They look so great in that huge basket; you have the best intentions to eat them all and then life happens. Despite making Peach Raspberry Coffeecake, Fresh Peach Bellinis, Grilled Peaches brushed with Cardamom Maple Butter and Pickled Peaches there are still some left. Don’t worry. Not a morsel will go to waste and as a bonus, you will have peaches to enjoy all year.
Frozen peach slices are convenient, healthy, tasty and easy. Use for pies, crisps and cobblers, flavourful smoothies or to make Spiced Maple Glazed Peaches to serve over frozen yogurt. You will run out of frozen peaches before you run out of ways to use them. Frozen peaches can be used to make jam and preserves, too.
By preparing them IQF (individually quick frozen) style, you can easily take out just the amount you want instead of them being a big chunk. Peel and prepare your peaches. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spread out your peaches in a single layer with some space between the pieces. Place in the freezer until solid and then transfer to a freezer safe container.
Using a blender or food processor, puree peaches (usually peeled but completely up to you). You will want to make sure you have something acidic mixed in to keep your puree from browning. Freeze in small container or fill up an ice cube tray. Use your pureed peaches to make a quick Peach Sweet and Sour Sauce for Grilled Pork Tenderloin, add a couple cubes to a pitcher of lemonade or mix with butter and a dash of cinnamon to slather on Buttermilk Scones.
Having a couple of bags of peach pie filling in the freezer means you can get a pie in the oven as fast as you can make the dough! Follow your favourite filling recipe. Pour into a freezer bag and place the filled bag in a freezer safe pie plate. This way the pie filling molds to the exact shape you need. Once frozen you can remove the pie plate so it’s ready for dough.
Fresh Peach Recipe
Thai Chopped Peach Salad
Is it salad, is it salsa? Doesn’t matter, you are going to use this everywhere. It is healthy, easy and delicious. Makes 4 servings.
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
½ tsp minced ginger
½ tsp minced lemongrass
½ cup diced red sweet pepper
¼ cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp sliced green onion
2 cups diced fresh peaches (about 3 peaches)
Kitchen Equipment & ToolsParing Knife
1. Make the dressing first. In your mixing bowl, add the lime juice, oil, maple syrup, garlic, fish sauce, ginger and lemongrass. Whisk until the dressing looks evenly mixed.
2. In the bowl where you made the dressing, add the cucumbers, pepper, cilantro and green onion. Toss until well combined.
3. Finally add the peaches. Toss gently until well combined. The salad is ready to eat right away but hits flavour peak after resting for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!
Chef TipsPeel the peaches if you prefer
Serve over a bed of mixed greens
Great with grilled fish or chicken
Like it spicy? Go ahead!
Add more veggies: cabbage, peas, carrots or edamame
Great topping for tacos