Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A quick word on Peaches

Peaches are at their peak right now and can be found just about everywhere. I recently was fortunate enough to come into a free bag of Virginia Peaches. They were all kinds of fuzzy and looked beautiful, but were hard as stones. I dutifully put them into brown paper bags on the kitchen counter to ripen. The very next day my Joy Of Cooking calendar noted that Peaches and Nectarines are fruits that will not continue to ripen once they have been picked. The Joy of Cooking recommended placing unripe peaches in a warm dry place, preferably a paper bag for a couple of days to soften. Sadly, however soft they may get the Joy of Cooking says they will not get any sweeter than they were upon picking. I have been trying to adjust to this life altering piece of information, carefully tasting my peaches as each day passes and I guess I have to say they taste the same as the one I ate that first day, pre-paper bag. This to me sounds like another good argument for buying from smaller local growers, who hopefully don't have to pick their peaches long before their prime. Also there are actually dozens of varieties of peaches grown throughout the peach season including varieties that have superior flavor, but are deemed unfit for grocery store sale because of shape or color. For example, red blushed peaches are what most customers look for, however the red blush of the peach has nothing to do with flavor. To pick a really good peach look beyond the red blush to the back ground color. The more mature the fruit when picked the more golden orange the background color of the skin is likely to be.

Also just a reminder that it is very difficult to find organically grown peaches in Virginia. Virginia"s Humidity and Peaches don't make for a reliably viable organic crop. With that in mind, if you don't know that your peach is organic please be sure to wash and peal your peach. Peaches are one of the most pesticide riddled of all our fruits and veggies according to the USDA, and truth be told their fine thin skin does little to keeps those pesticides out of the fruit itself. None-the-less I have never turned town a fresh peach... I just try to not eat them by the bucketful!

For more information on proper peach picking and other interesting and helpful produce tips, check out How To Pick A Peach : The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons.
With a 100 recipes and loads of helpful tips I have turned to this book several times over the last year and have been rewarded with practical information, history lessons and recipes like "Nectarine-Cardamom Ice Cream."!!!

1 comment:

  1. Great to use those kind of peaches in a cobbler. I've been experimenting w/peaches and puff pastry lately- good stuff!