Saturday, August 28, 2010

Peaches are Ripe! Beware farmers markets.

Peach  Pie
This is the only time of the year for peaches in northern climates.  They are juicy, peel easily, have well-formed stones and are inexpensive.  They are grown in the region and for this reason can be picked after they ripen, providing the best possible fruit for eating and baking.  Generally, I do not look for baseball size peaches.  While they may look perfect, odds are they come from a corporate farm.  Local, natural grown peaches are smaller and less 'picture perfect'.  I smell them at the stem end hoping for a slight fragerance.  I squeeze gently to determine if the flesh has some give without being mushy.  At a good market the vendor will let you taste and/or display a cut fruit for your inspection.  Beware of  'farmers markets'.  While you can get nice fruits and vegetables, do not assume everything you are looking at is local and fresh.  Many just buy the produce wholesale just like the big grocery stores.  Always ask where the farm is located that grew the produce you are considering.  If they cannot be specific (i.e., Your state name is not the correct answer), then move on.

In the late summer I spend alot of time with peaches.  If you've read my former peach posts you know that I'm all over these lucious fruits as summer begins to wane.  Have a look at those past posts if you want specific receipes.

Chilled after a 30 second boil.
Just slip off the skins next.
A peach really is a versitile fruit.  I bake them into pies, cobblers, crisps and tarts of myriad varieties.  I slice and top them with cream, whipped cream, ice cream and port wine.  I make cocktails out of them, and include them in sangria.  They make an excellent addition to your morning breakfast cereal, and go amazingly well with roasted pork. (Just peel and roast them right along with the pork for a sweet juicy flavor infusion.)

As I had an email recently asking if 'crisp' and a 'cobbler' were not the same thing, I think this would be a good time for me to tell you my definition.  A 'crisp' to me is a baked fruit dessert with a crumb topping and no bottom crust.  The crumb topping is made of brown sugar, a little flower, oatmeal, chopped walnuts, and cinnamin with the butter cut into the mixture.  This crumb topping may also be used to top pies, which unlike a crisp, have a bottom crust.  A cobbler is like a crisp in that it has no bottom crust, but instead of a crumb topping it has a biscuit topping.  I personally think a crisp is the easiest of desserts to make, as the topping is quick to assemble and widely loved by all. But however you decide to incorporate the seasons best fruit into your menu, enjoy!

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