JUST PEACHY: TIPS FOR FIND­ING THE BEST PICKS IN AU­GUST

Here are our tips on good picks

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - Jen­nifer Shee­han

Peaches — when fresh-picked — are mag­i­cal. When fresh-picked, they have an in­com­pa­ra­ble fla­vor, wrapped in a fuzzy skin that makes them even more in­ter­est­ing, (Whether to eat the skin is po­lar­iz­ing: Ei­ther you like the skin, or you work hard to re­move it.) As we hit peak peach time, here are a few facts, tips and recipe sug­ges­tions to make the most out of the best of Au­gust.

Peach picks

When most of us think of peaches, we im­me­di­ately think of the clas­sic yel­low peach, but there are ac­tu­ally more than 300 va­ri­eties grown in the United States. Peaches fit into three cat­e­gories: free­stone, cling­stone and semi-free­stone, re­fer­ring to how the pit clings to the flesh in­side the fruit. Here are the three ba­sic kinds of peaches I find (and buy) around the Val­ley: ■ White peaches: My per­sonal fa­vorites, these peaches have a pale, del­i­cate, juicy and sweet in­te­rior. You can al­ways tell which are the white peaches by the skin — which is more pink.

■ Flat peaches: These are peaches that look like some­one sat on them as they were grow­ing. Their un­usual, squished ap­pear­ance makes them fun for kids. You’ll see them called by dif­fer­ent names, in­clud­ing Saturn (aka dough­nut) or Galaxy. Like white peaches, they are low in acid and high in sugar.

■ Yel­low peaches: The clas­sic peach, with that bright yel­low, sweet-but-a-bit-tart fla­vor, cov­ered in a fuzzy skin.

How to pick ’em

■ Fresh-picked, lo­cal peaches are best: In sea­son, you’ll find peaches at your lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket, and that’s truly the best place to buy them (or at a nearby or­chard or farm­stand). Those peaches will be picked nearly ripe, which means you’ll be get­ting bet­ter peach fla­vor than those that have to be shipped in from an­other state. (For peaches to travel, they have to picked well be­fore they are ripe.)

■ Look for good color: When choos­ing your peaches, make sure they have good color and not a trace of green. If you see green, that peach has been picked too early. It’s also good to give the peaches a lit­tle sniff to see if you de­tect that lovely peach aroma (an­other sign of ripeness.)

■ Squeeze a lit­tle: The longer a peach has to ripen, the sweeter and juicier it will be. You can judge that by how soft the peach is. When choos­ing peaches, give them a lit­tle bit of a squeeze to judge how much longer it will be be­fore you can eat them. If it’s start­ing to give, you can go ahead and snack away.

Stor­age tips

If the peaches you bought are still very firm and don’t have that de­li­cious aroma, you can store them for a few days to ripen un­til they are ready to eat. The best place to store them is on the counter at room tem­per­a­ture. It’s best to store them un­washed, stem-side down in a sin­gle layer (to avoid any bruises.)

How to eat them

Peaches are of course de­li­cious as is. How­ever, there are lots of other cre­ative uses for fresh-picked peaches that you may want to con­sider:

■ Spice them up: Our pho­tog­ra­pher April Gamiz introduced me to Ta­jin, a spice blend of chile pep­pers, lime and salt. It’s es­pe­cially amaz­ing on fruit, as the spicy heat, the salt and the acid­ity of the lime heighten and bal­ance the fla­vor of fruit. Peel and slice a half-dozen white peaches, squeeze one lime’s worth of juice over the slices and sprin­kle Ta­jin. You’ll be glad you did. (The spice is avail­able at some gro­cery stores and on Ama­zon.)

■ Grill ’em: Take some just-about-but­not-com­pletely-ripe yel­low peaches, wash and cut down the mid­dle, re­mov­ing the pit. Take the halves and brush with a lit­tle olive oil and place them, flesh side down on medium heat on the grill. Give them, like, five min­utes and you should have some good grill marks. Flip them over and grill an­other five. (Don’t let them go much longer than that). Re­move and top with vanilla ice cream (or what­ever kind you like.) ■ Fruit salad: Pair those peaches with baby spinach, feta or goat cheese, wal­nuts and a sim­ple olive oil/lemon juice dress­ing.

■ Peach cob­bler dump cake: I love a good dump cake be­cause they are easy and fun, es­pe­cially for kids to make. Pre­heat your oven at 350. Then you’ll need about three to four cups of fresh peaches, peeled and chopped; 1/4 cup wa­ter; 1/3 cup sugar; a box of yel­low cake mix; 3/4 cup but­ter (cut into thin slices). First, make your peach mix­ture: Peaches in a bowl, add the sugar and wa­ter and mix so the sugar is dis­solved. Pour that mix­ture into a large bak­ing dish (9 inches by 13 inches works) and sprin­kle the dry cake mix over the top. Then put the but­ter over the top in an even layer. (The amount of but­ter may look crazy but this works). Bake 30-40 min­utes un­til you see that the top is golden brown. Let it cool a bit, then top with ice cream or whipped cream (or just plain).

Send me your peach recipes

I’d love to hear from you on your fa­vorite ways to use peaches. If you have a killer cake or a per­fect pie us­ing peaches, send me the recipe. Mail: Jen­nifer Shee­han, The Morn­ing Call, Ed­i­to­rial De­part­ment, P.O. Box 1260, Al­len­town PA 18105. Email: jshee­[email protected] Please in­clude your name, home­town and any other rel­e­vant info.

JEN­NIFER SHEE­HAN /THE MORN­ING CALL

Au­gust is the op­ti­mal time to get fresh-picked peaches, like these white peaches from North Star Or­chard, a ven­dor at the Em­maus Farm­ers Mar­ket.

JEN­NIFER SHEE­HAN/MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO Yel­low peaches, like these beau­ties from Scholl Or­chards, are typ­i­cally avail­able at your lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket from Au­gust till the end of Septem­ber.

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