How to savor peach season

From picking to preparing, learn to revel in the final weeks of peach season.

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How to savor peach season
Peaches by Steve Snodgrass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevensnodgrass/3829732843)], via Flickr

Don’t miss out on the final weeks of peach season as the last wave of the delicious fruits ripen for an early September harvest.

After two seasons of frosted-bud wipeouts, many local orchards are expecting larger yields this year. According to The Plain Dealer, Heinen’s produce buyer Terry Romp predicts a 70 percent crop coming from his Amish-country connections.

With the anticipated abundance approaching, it’s best to start planning now to avoid letting these sweet deals go to waste.

Selection

The Ohio Farm Bureau outlines what to look for when picking your own peaches at an orchard or farmers market:

Appearance: A ripe fruit will feature a creamy undertone referred to as “ground color.” It’s best to try to avoid peaches with rosy coloring, as it is not a sign of ripeness. Additionally, peaches with a green ground color generally lack flavor and usually shrivel and become tough.

Feel: It’s best to chose peaches that are firm to slightly soft and free from bruises.

Smell: A sweet peachy fragrance means the fruit is ready to eat.

Storage and preservation

After you’ve picked a bushel or so and you’ve taken your haul home, store your fruit at 33 F to 40 F in your refrigerator in a high-humidity vegetable drawer. The peaches should be used within a few days for the best taste.

It’s possible for peaches to soften if you stash them in a loosely closed paper bag for a couple of days, but the fruit won’t get any sweeter or riper. Letting the fruit to fully ripen on the tree is the best way to maximize flavor.

Canning and freezing peaches are also ways to preserve the fruit over an extended period of time. For more information, visit PickYourOwn.org.

Measurements

Knowing how much you need before you get home and understanding how to convert whole peaches into measurements for recipes can save a lot of time during the cooking process. See both the raw and processed amounts, provided by PickYourOwn.org, below.

Raw measures

  • About 2 medium peaches = 1 cup sliced peaches.
  • About 4 medium peaches = 1 cup pureed peach.
  • About 3 medium peaches = 1 pound of peaches.

Process yields (raw amounts to processed amounts)

  • 2 to 2½ pounds of fresh peaches yields 1 quart canned.
  • 1 pound of fresh peaches typically yields 3 cups of peeled, sliced peaches or 2 cups or puree.
  • It takes about 5 good sizes peaches to fill one quart jar of canned peaches.
  • An average of 17½ pounds of fresh peaches are needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints.
  • 1 bushel = 48 to 50 pounds, yields approximately 18 to 25 quart jars.

Preparation

Once you’ve properly selected, stored and measured your peaches, it’s time to start cooking. But how many different dishes can you really make from peaches?

Country Living details 50 recipes for peaches in its 50 Juicy Peach Recipes for (an Endless) Summer, including snacks, salads, dinners, cocktails and desserts. Here are my top five:

Peach Ice Cream – because who doesn’t love homemade ice cream made with fresh fruit!

peach-778334_1280

Ingredients

  • 2½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups fresh peaches
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together sugar, milk, egg yolks and salt. Then place the pan over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches a simmer. Next, lower the heat to medium and stir mixture until it begins to thicken. Then strain it into a large bowl and whisk in peaches, half-and-half, cream and vanilla. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s chilled — about 2 hours. Finally, pour the concoction into an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Easy Baked Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar Topping – you don’t have to be Betty Crocker to nail it with this recipe from I Heart Naptime.

Grilled Peaches by Mike McCune (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mccun934/5891465574)], via Flickr
Grilled Peaches by Mike McCune (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mccun934/5891465574)], via Flickr
Ingredients

  • 3 large peaches
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 375 F or grill to medium heat. Then slice peaches in half and remove the pit. Next, place them in an oven-safe pan. Then place a small dollop of butter in the middle of each peach. Next, combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl to sprinkle over the peach. Last, bake or grill your peach halves until golden — roughly 8 to 12 minutes.

Habanero Peach Pineapple Glazed Chicken Skewers – to make dinner a little bit sweeter, try this recipe from My Invisible Crown.

buffet-394174_1280

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peach preserves
  • 1 cup pineapple preserves
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil plus more for grill grate (olive oil can be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 habanero, minced, seeded and deveined
  • 4 peaches, cut in chunks
  • 1 whole pineapple, cut into cubes
  • 2 pounds chicken, cut into cubes or strips

Directions

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the first 9 ingredients and bring them to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Then remove the mixture and set it aside. Next, skewer your chicken alternating with pineapple and peaches, while you preheat your grill. Then brush your grill grate with oil, place your skewers directly on your grill grate and cook them over a medium flame for 6 to 8 minutes. Next, flip the skewers and continue cooking for another 6 to 8 minutes. Make sure to reserve half of the glaze to be served with the skewers before you slather the chicken and fruit in it. After skewers are covered, continue cooking them another 2 to 4 minutes until they are done.

Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Strawberries, Blueberries, Peaches and Mandarin Oranges – hey, who got salad in my fruit? Check out this recipe from Julia’s Album.

peach-437680_1280

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • garlic salt or garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Salad:

  • one package (10 oz) fresh spinach (about 10 cups of torn leaves)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup mandarin orange slices
  • 1 cup sliced peach
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, and whisk them together well. Then add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the dressing immediately or you can cover it and chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Next, combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Last, add the dressing to the salad and toss right before you serve it.

Peach Shortcakes – move over strawberries, these are delicious!

Peach Shortcake by Vegan Feast Catering (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/veganfeast/4935702867)], via Flickr
Peach Shortcake by Vegan Feast Catering (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/veganfeast/4935702867)], via Flickr
Ingredients

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1½ teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe peaches
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Start out by preheating your oven to 425 F. Then stir together flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Next, use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture turns into pea-shaped clumps. Once you’re done with that, add 1 cup of milk and mix with a wooden spoon or fork. If your dough is too dry, you can add 1 more tablespoon of milk. Then cover your hands in flour and gently shape your dough into a ball. Next, roll out or pat your dough into a 1/2-inch-thick circle on a floured work surface. Now you’re ready to cut out your dough, using a 3-inch round cutter or the rim of a glass. Repeat this process until you have 8 cutouts. Then place them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake them until the tops and bottoms are golden brown — about 15 to 17 minutes. Next, transfer your baking sheet to a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Meanwhile, place your electric mixer beaters and a medium-size metal or glass bowl in the freezer and chill for about 10 minutes. Then use your chilled bowl to combine cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Next using your electric mixer to beat to ingredients until soft peaks form. This takes about 5 minutes. After everything is mixed together, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate your whipped cream for up to 2 hours.

Next, toss peaches, lemon juice and remaining granulated sugar together in a medium bowl to set aside. Then split your shortcakes in half horizontally, using a serrated knife. Once you have 16 halves, place the bottoms, cut side up, on 8 plates. Then divide your peaches among the bottoms, top each with a blob of whipped cream and cap them with the remaining halves.

Sources: The Plain DealerThe Ohio Farm BureauPickYourOwn.orgCountry LivingI Heart NaptimeMy Invisible CrownJulia’s Album

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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s online content producer. Raised in Portage County, Ohio, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and outdoor recreation.

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