TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; There is nothing better than a perfectly ripe, juicy, drip-down-your chin, naturally sweet, summer peach. Peach season, June through September, is here and is gracing produce stands with a sunset of colors.
Originally from China, peaches quickly spread through the European continent and were later brought to the United States by the Spaniards in the early 1600s. Peach trees thrive in warm temperate climates, and today can be found growing in Georgia, California, Texas, and South Carolina.
Peaches, along with plums and apricots, belong to the rose family. They are a stone fruit due to the hard seed or pit found in the center. Peaches have a distinct rosy blush skin that is covered in a unique fuzz and contain a pinkish-white to yellow-gold flesh.
Peaches are a low-calorie food, full of vitamins and nutrients. They are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, potassium, and a variety of vital antioxidants.
When selecting, choose peaches that are firm to the touch but whose flesh gives slightly when squeezed. Fresh peaches should have a strong aroma and be brightly colored. Avoid peaches that are bruised and blemished or overly green in color.
It is best if ripe peaches are consumed immediately, however, to store, place in refrigerator for 3-5 days. Under-ripe peaches should be stored at room temperature until ripe enough to eat, approximately 2-3 days. To freeze, wash, peel and remove the pit from ripe peaches. Place in a tightly sealed freezer safe package and freeze for 3-6 months.
A fresh flavorful peach makes a simple summer snack; but peaches can lend themselves to a variety of dishes and cooking methods. They can be eaten raw on cereal, in salads or salsa and even blended in smoothies. Bake peaches in pies, cobbles, and cakes or whip up a batch of peach jam. But use caution and remove the skin of the peach before baking as the skin will become tough.
Grilling, another marvelous cooking technique for peaches, will intensify the natural sweetness and bring out the juiciness. These kabobs, with peaches, pork, onions, and sweet potatoes; are grilled to magnificent perfection and screams summer.
and#8212; Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was 9-years-old in her mother's kitchen. She knows how to get food on the table in a pinch while sticking to a budget. Currently, Chef Heather serves as a freelance writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.