There’s just something about tree fruit. It makes people want to use it to describe the many ways we feel about things–usually good things.
When someone is the apple of your eye, you’re VERY fond of him or her, and a plum pick is considered the best. When it’s just cherry, it’s more than sweet–it’s almost perfect. And finally, if it’s like a bowl of cherries, life is pretty darn good. Likewise, peaches have their own enamoration–just peachy, which of course means anything from just right to nearly perfect, depending on who is expressing the sentiment.
This time of the year in Michigan, peaches are indeed just peachy, with crops in our stores right now from South Carolina, California and MICHIGAN!
Of course peaches, like many tree fruits, are enjoyed in so many ways, including the most common, which is just out of your hand. From there, peaches make their way into delicious dishes like pies, crisps, cobblers, strudels, jams, jellies, salads, salsas and drinks. See the bottom of this article for some terrific peach recipes.
Perhaps the peach’s most legendary recipe, Peach Melba, was created by famed French Chef Escoffier in honor of Australian opera singer Nellie Melba. The basic Melba recipe consists of half a peach poached in syrup, topped with vanilla ice cream, and garnished with raspberry puree.
The peach is a member of the rose family, cousin to apricots, cherries, plums, and almonds. It has yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma, and a skin that is either velvety (peaches) or smooth (nectarines) in different cultivars. Though fuzzy peaches and nectarines are regarded commercially as different fruits, with nectarines often erroneously believed to be a crossbreed between peaches and plums, or peaches with plum skins, they actually belong to the same species as peaches. As a general rule, the fruits have slightly different tastes and textures, but this is due more to breeder selection than to nature. The flesh in both is very delicate and easily bruised when ripe, but it’s fairly firm when green. Peaches and nectarines, along with cherries, plums and apricots, are also called stone fruits (drupes).
After the peach’s introduction into the Americas, various American Indian tribes are credited with spreading the peach tree across the United States, taking seeds along with them and planting as they roved the country. Today, the three largest peach-producing states are California, South Carolina and Georgia, with a total of 23 states involved in commercial peach production. This tells you how well traveled Native Americans were.
Out of the hundreds of varieties of peaches, each can be classified as clingstone, freestone, or semi-freestone. In general, most peaches are classified by how firmly the flesh attaches to the pit. Of the more unusual varieties, the white-fleshed peach (which is actually a very pale yellow) and the donut peach are considered unusually good.
So? Did I whet your appetite? Ready to enjoy some peaches? I hope so.
Here are some peach recipes you can find on Nino’s website and one NEW recipe I think you’ll love!
Modern Melba (Peach Panna Cotta With Fresh Raspberries)
Makes about 6 servings
2 Cups Looza® Peach Nectar
1 TBSP Unflavored Gelatin
2 lbs Fresh, Ripe Peaches, Peeled & Pitted
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Fresh Raspberries
To Garnish Fresh Mint Sprigs
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar (for Peaches)
- Place 1/3 cup of the peach nectar in a small bowl, and then sprinkle in the gelatin while gently stirring. Allow this to rest 15 minutes.
- Simmer the remaining nectar in a heavy, medium saucepan until reduced to 1/2 cup.
- Chop 1 peach and transfer to blender. Blend with the ½ cup of reduced peach nectar until smooth.
- Heat the cream and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then remove from the heat.
- Whisk in the gelatin mixture. Then stir in peach puree and vanilla.
- Ladle into 6 small bowls. If you want to eventually unmold them (rather than leaving the panna cotta in the bowl), lightly spray each bowl with vegetable spray.
- Refrigerate (covered) until firm (about 8 hours).
- Slice remaining peaches and toss in ¼ cup of granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate until the sugar dissolves into a syrup.
- Serve the panna cottas garnished with the sliced peaches and sprinkled with fresh raspberries.