Fresh Local Peaches!
Just a little fuzzy with a delicate perfume of freshness is how I would describe the feel and smell of one of my favourite summertime fruits. When you bite into a ripe local peach the juice immediately spurts out and may even drip down your chin. You go in for the second bite and before you know it you are left with a jewel like centre that is the stone or pit of a peach. Easily I would grab another and do the same, many would.
There is not much we wait for that is in season when it comes to fruits and vegetables. You really don’t have to as we are lucky enough to see fruits and vegetables year round, but there is something different about peaches. I, like many have had peaches from other parts of the world at different times of the year and just like all fruits and vegetables there is such a unique and wonderful flavour that is produced when it’s local.
Although there are a variety of peaches available when you go to the market you tend to see either semi-freestone or freestone varieties. Which as their name implies, it’s how the interior of the fruit attaches or releases from it’s interior pit. Many like the freestone variety especially moms who are cutting up fruit for their kids, no need to wiggle a knife around the pit as the flesh easily cuts away. Within those categories are wonderful names of peaches you can find like Redhaven or Sunhaven just to name a couple.
Be sure to pick up a basket of peaches and tenderly feel how ripe they may be. If they are firm you will want to keep them at room temperature to help them ripen so enhance that summer sweet flavour. If they are already ripe and you can’t keep up with how many you bought refrigerate them or use them up to cook and bake with!
I love eating peaches on their own and they make a great snack with yogurt or tossed in a fruit salad. They are also a great addition to fruit kabobs which the kids love making to dip into vanilla yogurt or whipped cream. If they are a bit overripe and on the softer side, you can cut them into larger wedges and cook them with some butter and brown sugar and a splash of rum if you dare and spoon them over ice cream or angel food cake. A wonderful summer time dessert.
If they are ripe and still firm enough you can grill them too. One of the simplest ways to bring out their natural sweetness and so easy to enjoy on their own or as part of a recipe. I’ve included a couple of my favourite ways to enjoy fresh in season local summertime peaches and I hope that if you’re not enjoying them on their own you are cooking or baking up something yummy with them.
Prosciutto Grilled Peach Salad
Sweet and salty are a perfect combination for a summer salad. Thinly sliced prosciutto envelopes ripe peach halves for this backyard dish. You can enjoy the peaches on their own as a fun appetizer idea too. Serve them with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
2 fresh ripe peaches
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh basil
Pinch fresh ground pepper
2 slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
4 cups (1 L) baby arugula
Half a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tbsp (15 mL) aged balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virigin olive oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard
Pinch each salt and fresh ground pepper
Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Sprinkle each peach half with basil and pepper. Wrap each half with prosciutto.
Place wrapped peaches on preheated greased grill over medium high heat. Grill, turning once for about 5 minutes or until peaches are softened and prosciutto is crisp.
In a large bowl, toss together arugula, pepper, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Divide among 2 plates and top each plate with 2 peach halves to serve. Sprinkle with remaining basil.
Tip: If peaches are large, you will need 1 whole slice of prosciutto per peach half.
Sweet Peach Cakes on the BBQ
These light fruity cakes are addictive! A perfect ending to a campfire meal or to enjoy as a snack or sneak in a leftover for breakfast the next day. Enjoy the summer flavour of peaches at their best and baking them on the barbecue is a breeze.
Cook Time: 15 minutes
½ cup (125 mL) butter, softened
¾ cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
¾ cup (175 mL) all purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) each baking powder and cinnamon
3 firm ripe fresh peaches, diced
2 tbsp (30 mL) demerara or turbinado sugar (optional)
In bowl, whisk together butter and sugar until combined. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture until well combined. Spread into 12 greased foil muffin cups. Divide peaches on top and press slightly into batter. Sprinkle with sugar, if using.
Place pan on preheated grill over medium-low heat; close lid and cook for about 15 minutes or until top is golden and tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool slightly.
Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
Makes 12 cakes
Tip: Try to keep the barbecue’s temperature around 350 F (180 C) to cook cakes evenly.
3 peaches, peeled and finely chopped will give you about 2 ¼ cups (550 mL).
Oven Variation: Bake cakes in 350 F (180 C) oven for about 20 minutes.
When you are at home you can use an electric beater to bring the batter together more quickly and add some volume to the cakes.
Medjool dates are found in the produce aisle and are a source of fibre, potassium and natural sweetness. This makes them a perfect way to add a hint of sweetness to this delicious summer smoothie with fresh peaches.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: n/a
Serves/Yield: 2 cups (500 mL) or 2 servings
1 fresh ripe peach, pitted and chopped
2 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup (75 mL) plain 0% Greek yogurt
3/4 cup (175 mL) almond milk
1 cup (250 mL) ice cubes
In a blender, pulse together peach, dates, yogurt and milk. Add ice cubes and puree until smooth and frothy.
Tip: If the peach isn’t as ripe as you would like, adding another Medjool date will bring out some more natural sweetness.
Mascarpone Stuffed Grilled Peaches
Fresh summer peaches with that little bit of fuzz are one of my favourite fruits. When you bite into it and the juice drips down your chin, makes you feel like you’re 5 years old all over again. As you get older you try different things and this is a huge hit!
Grilling peaches brings out their super sweetness and warms them enough to start melting the Mascarpone filling.
1/2 cup (125 mL) Mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) Amaretto or Frangelico liqueur (optional)
1/2 cup (125 mL) crushed amaretti cookies
2 fresh ripe peaches
1 tbsp (15 mL) melted butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) sliced almonds, toasted
2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey
Fresh mint leaves
In bowl, stir together Mascarpone, brown sugar and liqueur, if using. Add amaretti and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Cut each peach in half and remove pit. Brush peach halves with butter and place on greased grill over medium high heat cut side down first. Close lid and grill, turning once for about 8 minutes or until golden and tender. Remove to platter.
Scoop Mascarpone mixture on top of each peach and sprinkle with almonds. Drizzle with honey and garnish with mint leaves if desired.
Tip: If you would like your filling warmed through, scoop the Mascarpone mixture into the peach and return it to the grill over medium heat. Close lid and grill for about 2 minutes or until Mascarpone melts slightly.
Tip: Look for Lavender or Wild flower honey to drizzle over top for a glistening hint of sweet floral flavour that enhances the peaches..