18 Aug How to pick, peel and use peaches
I’m on Kitchener CTV’s News at Noon talking about peaches. While they’re generously allotting me 5 minutes, the entire news hour isn’t enough time to tell you how much I love peaches. And just how much do I love peaches? Last year, I bought an upright freezer to accommodate my lust for Blazing Stars. To keep Andrew happy, I allow the odd batch of homemade Italian meatballs and bag of oven-dried tomatoes to take up precious freezer space, but peaches are the real reason a honking big white box sits in our basement sucking up energy at a horrific rate.
Last year I looked at buying and storing peaches. But based on emails and discussions, a few unanswered questions.
Freestone or clingstone? Which is best?
The type of peach depends on what you want to use it for. Freestone peaches are easy to handle and make wonderful straight-from-your-hand eating, but don’t ignore the clingstones. While they can be a nuisance to pit, clingstones hold together better when cooked, making them a better choice for pies and canning. Semi-freestones, as the name implies, fall in between and are a good general purpose peach, good for both eating and canning.
Most people buy freestone peaches by default because that’s what’s available at the grocery store. But Ontario alone grows more than 30 different kinds of peaches. That means 96.7% of peach varieties go unheralded. So for a truly heavenly peach experience, hie thee to the Farmers’ Market and experiment. Try a Bellaire or Blazing Star, which have intense peach flavour. Taste a candy-sweet, low-acid white peach. Nibble a firm Baby Gold. You’ll be surprised at the differences between the varieties.
How do you peel peaches?
Some peaches peel easily with a paring knife when ripe. Others are more stubborn. To remove the fuzz from any peach you can:
- Blanch them: Plunge peaches into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and put them immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. The skin should come off easily with a paring knife.
- Use a fruit peeler: If fruit peelers can take the skin off a slippery smooth tomato then a peach is no challenge. Unlike the smooth blade of a potato peeler, the serrated edges of this specialty item removes a think layer of skin leaving almost all the fruit.
Once the peaches are peeled you can prevent them from browning with a splash of lemon juice.
What can I do with my peaches?
Pies, jams and plain old as is are the three most popular choices. Want more? Here are some suggestions from the archives.
Over the next couple of days, I’ll be posting a few new peach-related recipes including a savory salad and an upside down cake. In the meantime, how do you use your peaches?