May 29th, 2015

Peaches: The Golden Ticket

peaches1I hope this post will inspire you to change your summer meals and enjoy your peaches all year long!

Yes, that’s right: Peaches all year long.

I consider peaches akin to Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory fame. They are high in vitamins C, E, and K, plus offer fiber and potassium. They are the simplest fruit and sooooo ridiculously versatile, be it frozen, raw, baked/roasted, sauced or grilled.

When ripe, they are oh-so aromatic. So, when you’re shopping, please stop manhandling them! Refrain from squeezing and bruising them, only to leave them behind for the rest of us! If they smell like a peach, then they are juicy and ripe.

That said, I realize that optimal ripeness is hard to ensure. My tip? If you have no choice but to buy this stone fruit unripened, just place them in a paper bag for a few days with an apple. Fruits emit ethylene gas when they ripen—especially apples—which makes them softer. The bag keeps the gas close to the fruit while still allowing it to circulate. Keep them in a cool place so they don’t mold—and monitor closely. They can go from rock hard to mushy quickly!

The season to buy peaches is varied—know where your peaches are coming from. Peak peach harvest time? It’s early May to early August in Georgia and South Carolina, bu if you’re in Michigan or New Jersey, look toward mid-July to late September. And, finally, in Florida, the season typically lasts from mid April to late May.

Five Peach Prep Options

RAW: While in season, I keep the fruit bowl filled with peaches! Just throw them in your blender for a breakfast smoothie. This is an awesome recipe—and raw! Aside from simply slicing one for a snack or walking out the door eating one (grab a napkin—it will be juicy!), for another raw option, dice it up with a little jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and you have a perfect salsa for some grilled fish.

FROZEN:  At the peak of the season, when prices drop lowest, I buy 5-8lbs of peaches and freeze them. Make yourself a pitcher of your favorite liquid motivator to help get yourself through all the work! It will take a few hours to get them prepped and in the freezer and you will feel like an Oompa Loompa working tirelessly. But the first time you pull your peaches out of the freezer and taste that sweet prize, you’ll act a bit like Veruca Salt shouting, “I want it now!” And I lopeach2ve my Wonka Peach recipe that I created a few years ago: 2-3 pureed peaches, 1 cup (8 oz) plain gin, 1/4 cup of rosemary simple syrup, 12 ounces of seltzer water and muddled mint. Serve it over ice with a Wonkified straw.

GRILLED:  Yes, that’s what I said. Grilled. If you are about to BBQ anything, you should automatically slice some peaches in half, remove the pit, and give them a little space on that well oiled surface. I love to grill them with rosemary skewered through. After cooked and soft, I remove skewers and let them rest for a few minutes before smashing them over a piece of chicken, fish or pork. And for dessert, after you are done grilling your dinner, turn the heat way down and let those peach halves get sweet and soft. They’re perfect to pair with a scoop of ice-cream or drizzle with lavender honey and sprinkle of granola. Or try this amazing recipe from Epicurious.com for grilled peaches with raspberry sauce.

BAKED or ROASTED: The here question is: Do you want sweet or savory? For the latter, dinner with peaches is a super easy fix. You can roast peaches with any protein! If you’ve never roasted fruit before, it’s time you start. Roasting is not just for vegetables. All in all, roasted fruit is awesome. It gets even sweeter and the natural sugars caramelize adding a deeper flavor—and peaches are one of the best fruits to roast. Try this recipe for roasting chicken with peaches, or this Paleo recipe for peaches and pork chops is so tasty, quick and simple! For

peaches_bbq2

something sweet, baking is a great way to prep peaches when making a dessert.

SAUCED: When I make sauces, whatever is left goes in the freezer. It’s great for chicken, ribs, shrimp, dipping, or, if I only have a tiny bit left, as a condiment on a sandwich. Or I’ll add more bourbon to it and use it as a marinade.

I’m sharing this recipe for Peach Brourbon BBQ Sauce from Blackberry Farm, rather than give my actual recipe, for two reasons. First: I do not use a recipe.  I normally use the same ingredients but always tweak it as I go. Second … I’m planning a trip to Blackberry Farm this fall for my birthday and took that as a sign!.

My last tip (and you will thank me) is to take those peaches at the farmers market that are “too bruised” for sale. BUY THEM! Those are the ones you hurry up and throw in the freezer for smoothies. Or run home and make a perfect Spicy Summer Peach Soup topped with a little crab or a ceviche. Stop missing out and peel back your winning golden—or peach—ticket!

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