Late spring to early summer brings on the delicious peach. With flesh ranging from white to deep orange, the tender, juicy peach can turn up in any dish on the table: beverages, condiments, salads, side dishes and, of course, dessert. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, peaches are low in sodium, carbs and calories, with only 59 calories for a medium-size fruit. The peach adapts easily to savory dishes, as well as sweet, and lends itself easily to canning.
Native to northwest China, the peach was first domesticated and cultivated there before becoming available in Europe and the New World. Peaches and nectarines are from the same family, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. Their main difference is the fuzz on the skin — peaches have it, and nectarines do not.
There are hundreds of peach and nectarine varieties, but all fall distinctively into two categories: the freestones and the clingstones. The juicy flesh of the freestone separates easily from the pit, and clingstones, well, cling. Fuzz or no, clingy or not, this fruit is full of natural sweetness and juice.
PEACH GREEN TEA RECIPE
2 whole fresh peaches
1 family-size bag green tea, or 6
1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar or preferred
Boil water for tea on stove in a small saucepan. When water comes to a boil, add tea bags, and remove the pan from heat. Let the tea steep for about 15 minutes.
Cut the peaches in chunks, and add to blender. Add 1 or 2 cups of the green-tea concentrate. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes.
Strain peach and tea mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a 2-quart pitcher. Add sugar or sweetener, and mix well. Add enough water to fill pitcher.
Serve over ice.
GRILLED PEACHES WITH CREME FRAICHE
Creme fraiche is delicious and super simple to make, which is great because it isn’t always available in the supermarket. The cream is slightly thickened and has a slight sour taste, somewhat like sour cream.
Grilled Stone Fruit With a Honey-Balsamic Glaze:
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
8 ounces creme fraiche (homemade recipe below)
6 firm but ripe peaches or nectarines (halved and pitted)
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sour cream
Whisk 1/2 cup honey, vinegar, water and vanilla in small bowl. Whisk creme fraiche and remaining 2 tablespoons honey in medium bowl to blend. (Glaze and creme fraiche mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately. Refrigerate creme fraiche mixture. Re-whisk both before using.)
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Brush fruit generously with half of glaze. Grill until heated through, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes on each side.
Arrange 2 grilled fruit halves, cut side up, on each plate. Drizzle with remaining glaze. Spoon some creme fraiche mixture into center or on top of grilled fruit.
Grate lemon/lime zest for a bright citrus kick.
For Creme Fraiche:
Combine ingredients and gently heat to approximately 100 degrees. Transfer to a glass canning jar, or stainless-steel or porcelain container. Keep the mixture covered in a warm place, such as on a countertop – it’s perfectly safe — until the cream has thickened, usually 24 to 36 hours. After the cream has thickened, place it in the refrigerator. It should keep for at least a couple of weeks.
FRESH PEACH COBBLER
Recipe courtesy of Jean Boyce of Newport
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups sugar, divided use
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Dash of salt
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh sliced peaches
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.
Peel and slice peaches. Combine with 1 cup sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients, including remaining sugar. Add milk, and stir until mixed. Pour over butter in baking dish. Do not stir in.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until crust is puffed and lightly golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
Cook’s tip: Make sure peaches are prepared before stirring the crust together; otherwise, the crust mixture could start to rise in the bowl.