By JAN MAIN
August is the month for peaches. An annual pleasure, peaches can be enjoyed in crisps, pies, cakes and for longer pleasure, canned in glass jars for a winter treat bringing back summer memories of their luscious flavour.
Peaches do not freeze well but preserve with quality by canning in a simple syrup which captures their unique sweet, fruity taste and tender texture.
Be warned, do not buy green peaches. They will not ripen to juicy sweetness. Instead, choose peaches whose background colour is a pale yellow. Don’t be fooled by the blush.
When selecting perfect fruit, the “sniff test” works well. If the peach has a sweet fragrance and is yellow, its ready to eat. Yum!
The following are my favourite recipes for our Ontario peaches picked in season.
TIP: Peaches, nectarines and plums are all at their best in August and could be prepared into any of these recipes. However, nectarines and plums do not have to be blanched (have their skins removed before using.)
Peaches in Whisky Sauce
That unique peach taste intensifies when served warm. Thus, one of the simplest most delicious recipes are peaches in whiskey sauce.
How can you go wrong with peaches, brown sugar, butter with a splash of whisky?
Blanche: To peel peaches, you may have to “blanch” them first, that is immerse the peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain. Rinse in cold water and starting at the pit end, gently remove the skin. The blanching kills the enzymes under the skin and allows the skin to slip off easily.
4 peaches ripe, blanched and peeled, quartered then cut in half again
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter
1/4 cup (50 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) whisky, Scotch or Canadian
Sprinkle peach slices with lemon juice. Set aside.
In a stainless- steel saucepan large enough to accommodate peaches in a single layer or Teflon frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle sugar over. Stir to combine.
Add peaches to the pan and allow them to warm about 2-3 minutes. Stir in whisky and stirring gently cook another 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately over good vanilla ice-cream, Greek yogurt, pound cake, pancakes or waffles.
Makes 4 servings. Recipe can be doubled.
This basic recipe is a must. The flavour of warm peaches is irresistible. Serve this simple recipe with a dollop of quality vanilla ice-cream or yogurt and you will be a star!
Peach Crisp Filling
5 cups (1.25 L) peeled, sliced peaches about 6 peaches
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar or 1 cup lightly packed brown
2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose flour
Topping for Crisp or Pie
1/2 cup (125 mL) melted butter
1 cup (260 mL) each, all-purpose flour and quick oats
1 cup (240 mL) brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). In a medium mixing bowl, gently stir together sliced peaches, lemon juice, brown- sugar and flour. Spoon into 8 cup (2 L) baking dish sprayed with baking spray or use a 13 x 9- inch (3 L) baking dish.
Arrange fruit in even layer in baking dish. Set aside.
In a microwave proof dish melt butter. Stir in flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over prepared fruit.
Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 35-40 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and topping is a deep golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.
Peach Pie Variation (Using basic crisp recipe)
Many people love peach pie. Yes, it is delicious. This crisp recipe translates perfectly to pie as well (two recipes in one).
Purchase or prepare a 9 -inch pastry. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
Prepare the peach crisp filling and spoon into the prepared pie shell. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the fruit.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375 F (190 C) continue to bake 30 minutes or until pie is bubbly. Serve warm.