Ways with Peaches
by Julie Jensen

It must be fall if roadside stands offer rosy peaches, and you are tempted to buy in bushels.

The peach has been romanticized since ancient times as one of the most prized of fruits. Its native home is China, where they are believed to have grown for at least 4,000 years, but they came to Europe by way of Persia (Iran) where they were known as the Persian apple. The peach spread throughout Europe by Romans who planted peaches in the sunny mild parts of their empire. When the Spanish explorers set out to the New World in the 1500’s, they took the seeds of many plants including peaches with them. English Colonists in the 1600’s also brought peaches. Soon they grew wild over the Southern part of what is now the U.S.

Peaches are among the most succulent of summer’s offerings, one of the undisputed pleasures of the last rites of summer. Like many fruits, peaches seem pure and life-sustaining . . . a gift of the season and of the earth. When a peach is soft to the touch and has a strong peach aroma, it is ready for eating.

The two principal types of peaches are freestone and clingstone. As the name suggests, the freestone fruit has a juicy flesh that separates easily from the pit. Freestones are generally considered sweeter and more succulent than the “clings” and are the preferred eating variety. Clingstone peaches are used chiefly in canning because the fruit is firmer.

Fresh peaches are further separated into yellow and white fleshed varieties. They are equally tasty, but the white peach tends to have a more delicate flavor.

Anyone who has a peach tree in her backyard knows how remarkable a simple, fresh picked peach can look, smell, and taste . . . and how pleasurable it can be to deliver peaches to a neighbor or friend.

“Summer has ripened, bringing forth fruits of all kinds to bestow on us mortals. The abundance that is ours; the trees drooping with sweet sun-filled fruits; the utter lavishness of Nature at this season – it makes us pause. What could be more sublime than eating a peach in the shade of some huge benign tree?” (Deseret News)

Peaches fit into any meal. They can serve as a refreshing appetizer drink, garnish a poultry dish, be sliced as a salad accompanied by other fruits, and are best known in the form of spectacular desserts. They also make a stunning centerpiece on a stemmed glass plate or tumbling out of a compote.

In its simplest form, the peach can be served along with the meal or as a finale. Presenting a bowl of lush, ripe fruit, along with a sharp knife and creamy cheese and toasted almonds allows their true colors and flavors to shine.

You may enjoy adding the following to your collection of peach recipes.

PEACHES & CREAM TART
A spectacular dessert of the season

CRUST

Macaroon Cookies, 2 cups crumbled

1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix crumbled macaroon cookies with melted butter. Grease round cake or pie pan. Press mixture into pan and put in freezer for 15 minutes.

FILLING

2 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

4 Tbs. orange juice

Whip cream until stiff. Set aside. Beat cream cheese. Blend in sugar, orange juice and vanilla and almond extract. Fold in whipping cream. Spread over crust. Let set in refrigerator for 2-4 hours before serving or place in freezer for 1 hour.

Top with fresh peach slices and garnish with berries if desired.

Serves about 6. This recipe can be doubled in a 10″ springform pan, as pictured, or 9×14″ pan.

PEACH ICE CREAM
Make this superb ice cream in a 6-qt. ice cream freezer

3-1/2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and mashed

4 cups sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1-1/2 cups boiling water.

1 6oz. container frozen orange juice concentrate

1 6oz. container frozen lemonade concentrate

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.)

2% or whole milk, as needed

food coloring, red & yellow

Dissolve sugar and salt in boiling water. Pour into ice cream freezer container. Combine peaches, orange juice and lemonade concentrates, whipping cream, and evaporated milk and add to first mixture. Add milk (2% or whole) to bring mixture up to 4″ from top of container. Add a couple of drops of red and yellow food coloring to enhance the color. Freeze according to directions of your freezer manufacturer.

PEACH SMOOTHIE
A refreshing, healthy drink for anytime of day

1 large peach

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1 cup ice, crushed

1/4 cup sugar

Blend in blender. Serve immediately. Makes one generous serving.

FROZEN PEACH COCKTAIL
A family favorite to bring sunshine into the winter months

2 cups sugar (less if peaches are extra sweet)

3lbs. (12 large) peaches, peeled and sliced.

(For easy peeling, immerse peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice (or orange juice made from frozen concentrate)

1 2/3 cups crushed pineapple

Sprinkle sugar over peaches and let stand. Prepare juices. Add pineapple to juices and pour over the peaches. Freeze in 4 1-pt. bags or 2 1-qt. bags. To serve, thaw slowly in refrigerator for 4hrs. or about 2 to 3 hours at room temperature. Add bananas or berries if desired when ready to serve. Yield: approximately 4 pints.

PEACH COBBLER
A wonderful aroma as it bubbles in the oven
A delicious low fat, low sugar dessert

Filling:

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. almond extract flavoring

1/2 cup water

4 cups (about 8 medium) fresh peaches, peeled, sliced

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. butter

Biscuit Topping:

1 cup flour

2 Tbs. sugar

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup milk

Ice cream or whipped cream for topping, as desired.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Filling: Combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add almond extract. Stir in peaches, lemon juice and butter; heat through and keep warm while topping is prepared.

Biscuit Topping: Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine egg and milk; add all at once to flour mixture. Stir just to moisten. Turn hot filling into a greased 1 1/2 -quart or 2-quart casserole. Immediately spoon on topping in 8 mounds. Bake approximately 20 minutes. Top each serving with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 6.

This recipe also works well with 4 cups fresh raspberries or blackberries.

Hints:

1 pound peaches equals: 3 medium peaches

2 cups sliced

1 cup pulp

 


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