Ingredient SpotLight

In China, where peaches originated, the peach has mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection. Originally growing in North China in areas of erosion and overgrazing, peaches became a symbol of fertility and of affection. Learn more and learn to cook with them and you'll be in love, too!

There are two basic types of peaches. One is the clingstone. As the name implies, the fruit clings to the stone. Chances are you will never buy a fresh clingstone peach, as the canning industry takes them ripe from the fields and processes them within 24 hours of picking.

The other variety is the freestone, which can be loosened from the pit with relative ease. When selecting peaches, don't look at the blush on the sides, but direct your attention to the area close to the stems. Here is the tell-tale green or creamy yellow. Green indicates that they may have been picked too far before their prime to ripen properly, while creamy yellow holds true treasure.

Peaches are incredibly versatile. They are equally at home in sweet and savory dishes. To give you an idea of their reach, please enjoy this month's selection of great recipes.

Ginger Peach Ice Cream in Grilled Peach Cups

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 7 peaches, 4 halved, 3 peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookie
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Using an electric mixer, beat the ice cream, chopped peaches, gingersnaps and coconut on low speed until just combined. Freeze until firm, about 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat a grill to medium heat. Brush the cut sides of the peach halves with the oil and grill cut side down until golden-brown, about 2 minutes.

Turn the peaches over and grill for 1 minute more. Divide among 4 bowls; top each with a scoop of ginger peach ice cream.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus freezing time

Fresh Peach Pancakes With Quick Strawberry-Peach Sauce

For the Sauce:
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 peaches, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
For the Pancakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into small dice

Make the sauce: add the strawberries, peaches, Grand Marnier, and vanilla to a blender or food processor fitted with metal blade; whirl until smooth.

Taste and add powdered sugar as needed. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use; will keep for about 1 day.

Make the pancakes: in a bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ginger, and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, melted butter, Grand Marnier, and vanilla together to blend thoroughly.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix using a whisk, stopping when everything is combined (the batter will be a little lumpy).

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the peaches.

Lightly butter or oil your griddle or skillet. Preheat over medium heat (if using an electric griddle, set to 350°).

Spoon ¼ cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake, allowing space for spreading and use a spatula or the back of your spoon to lightly press the batter into rounds.

When the undersides of the pancakes are golden and the tops are speckled with bubbles that pop and stay open, flip the pancakes over with a wide spatula and cook until the other sides are light brown.

Serve immediately with the Quick Strawberry-Peach Sauce.

  • Yields: 14 pancakes
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Peach Salsa

  • 6 cups peeled pitted and chopped peaches
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4-6 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons liquid honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large stainless steel or enamel pot combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Boil gently for 5 minutes.

Ladle into clean, hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes at altitudes up to 1000 feet.

  • Yields: 8 half pints
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Pork Chops with Peach Barbecue Sauce

  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, 1/2-3/4 inch thick (1 3/4-2 pounds), trimmed
  • 2 ripe but firm peaches, pitted and quartered, or 3 cups frozen sliced peaches
  • 1 medium tomato, quartered and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, preferably Vidalia
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

Place 1/4 cup of salt and brown sugar in a medium heat proof bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir to dissolve the salt and brown sugar. Add ice cubes and stir the mixture to cool it. Add the pork chops, cover and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Puree the peaches, tomato and vinegar in a food processor until smooth.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the pork chops, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peach puree, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, honey and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it's reduced by about half, 20 to 25 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce for basting the chops; keep the remaining sauce warm in the saucepan until you are ready to serve the meal.

Preheat the grill to medium. Remove the pork chops from the brine (discard the brine), rinse the chops well, and thoroughly dry them with paper towels. Season the chops with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and brush both sides with some of the reserved sauce.

Grill the pork chops, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the warm peach barbecue sauce on the side.

To start ahead: Brine the pork chops (Step 1) for up to 4 hours. Refrigerate the peach barbecue sauce (Step 3) for up to 5 days.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 75 minutes