Peaches are a member of the stone fruit family, thus named for the hard pits that can be found at their centers. Peaches come in two major varieties: cling and freestone. Cling peaches "hold" onto their pits and are therefore often used for baking and canning. Freestone peaches can be easily separated from their pits and are ideal for fresh eating and any applications that require large pieces of fruit. I prefer the freestone varieties because they are less messy ... although a juicy peach from either class is bound to leave you with a chin-dripping mess!
A medium peach contains about 40 calories and is a great source of fiber, provided you leave the fuzzy skin intact. For the best flavor, make sure you enjoy fruit that has been allowed to ripen on the tree. Any fruit you don't enjoy right away should be stored in the refrigerator in an area that has a high humidity -- like a vegetable drawer. Do yourself a favor and allow those beauties to come to room temperature before enjoying them ... you'll love the succulence that ensues!
Peaches originated in China and peach blossoms are still carried by brides in China and Japan during wedding ceremonies, much like the popular orange blossoms in the United States. Peaches are still a symbol of affection and fertility in China today. It's not hard to see why either. Falling for a ripe, juicy peach is not a difficult task at all! And since they are at their prime now, here are a couple of recipes that feature them: one is a traditional cobbler and the other a not-so-traditional condiment. Enjoy them both and have a great summer.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 3 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches, with their juices
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the butter in a 9x13 inch Pyrex baking dish and put the dish in the preheating oven. While the butter is melting, mix up the batter by combining the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and milk.
When the butter is completely melted, remove the pan and pour the batter into the melted butter. Then, carefully spoon the peaches and juice evenly over the batter. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
As the cobbler cooks, the batter will rise up and around the peaches.
- Yields: 10 to 12 servings
- Preparation Time: 40 minutes
- 2 ripe yellow peaches
- 1/4 cup ground mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 T yellow mustard seed, ground coarse
- 1/2 tsp ground garlic (or 1 small fresh clove, crushed)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 2 T honey
Peel and cut the peaches into a large dice. If you need to grind the whole mustard seed, clean out your coffee grinder and pulse the seed two or three times until some is cracked and some is still whole.
In a stainless steel or non-stick-coated pan, stir together all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, being careful not to scorch the sugar. Stir it down and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, over low heat until the peaches are very soft, about 1 hour. If the mixture seems too runny, simmer without the cover for ten minutes or so to evaporate some of the liquid.
Pulse the mixture in a food processor until it is thick but not quite smooth. Let cool. Store the mustard in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Use as a base for a vinaigrette, as a sandwich spread, or as a marinade. Or just eat it out of a dish with a pretzel, or a spoon!
- Yields: 1 cup
- Preparation Time: 90 minutes