The peach has been one of the most popular fruits since ancient times. There are many varieties of peaches, and except for a few, most varieties are not easy to tell apart. Here are some tips for choosing high quality peaches:
— The reddish “bloom” on the peach is not a sure sign the peach has been picked at its prime. Instead, look at the undercolor, which should be a deep yellow or creamy white; green indicates immaturity.
— Peaches should be firm to the touch and never hard. Peaches that are hard and green are immature and will never ripen properly. A mature peach will yield to gentle hand pressure.
— Never squeeze a peach; it will easily bruise.
— Avoid over-ripe, bruised, or wrinkled peaches. They will quickly decay.
— The best way to ripen peaches is to place them in a single layer in a loosely closed paper bag or ripening dish at room temperature for a day or two days. Never “stack” peaches as the bottom ones will bruise.
— Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator for up to a week.
— When ready to eat, leave the peach out of the refrigerator for about an hour. Allowing the peach to come to room temperature enhances the flavor.
— Rinse peaches just before eating with cool, running water.
— If your recipe calls for skinned peaches, dip in boiling water for 30–60 seconds, plunge into cold water and slip off the skins. Use immediately or toss with citrus juice or a commercial ascorbic acid mixture to prevent darkening. Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until ready for use.
A medium-sized peach has about 60 calories, most of which is from naturally derived sugars. Peaches provide vitamins A and C, potassium and are a great source of fiber.
Due to the many variables, such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is impossible to give specific recommendations as to quantities to buy.
The recommendations below are approximations only:
— 1 bushel = 48 to 50 pounds
— 1 pound = 3 or 4 medium-sized peaches
— 1 pound = 2 to 3 cups sliced
— For a delicious meat accompaniment, try grilled peaches. Roll four peeled fresh peaches in a mixture of ⅓ cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ginger. Grill until sugar caramelizes.
— Slice peaches onto waffles or mix crushed peaches with maple syrup and serve over pancakes or waffles.
— Mash a ripe peach (1/4 cup puree) into 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt for a low calorie dessert or snack. A sugar substitute may be used to sweeten the snack.
— Try peaches and ice cream, frozen yogurt, or cottage cheese.
— Peaches are suitable for a variety of baked goods, such as pies, cobblers, muffins, and crisps.
Source: Ohio Cooperative Extension
5 cups sliced fresh peeled peaches
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
¼ cup flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
Toss peaches with sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Place in a 2-quart shallow,
greased baking dish. Combine oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter or
margarine until small particles are formed. Sprinkle topping onto peach mixture. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director.