Sunday, July 18, 2004

Time is ripe for a peach primer



Gannett News Service

When is peach season?

The season is here, having begun in South Carolina and Georgia the first week of June.

Depending on the variety of peach grown, the season will continue through September.

How do you pick the freshest peach?

Ripe peaches should have "high yellow" background. Extremely ripe peaches will bruise easily, so handle them carefully.

If peaches are still firm, spread them out in a single layer at room temperature to let them ripen. Fully ripe peaches should be stored in the refrigerator.

Are there any tricks to peeling peaches?

Blanch or submerge peaches in boiling water for one minute. Then plunge them into cold water for another minute to cool. The skin will be much easier to peel after this process.

Can peaches be frozen?

Yes. Cut fruit into slices or chunks, toss with lemon juice to prevent browning and pack in plastic freezer bags. Fruit should be used within six months.

What is the cup measurement of a pound of peaches?

A pound of peaches - about 3 medium peaches or 2 large peaches - yields about 4 cups of sliced peaches.

How many peaches are there in a bushel? A pound? A 9-inch pie?

One bushel is the equivalent of 48 to 50 pounds of peaches. A pound yields 4 cups of sliced peaches. A 9-inch pie contains about 2 pounds of peaches.

South Carolina Chicken Salad

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into large cubes

3/4 cup thinly sliced celery

1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sour cream

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

2 to 4 teaspoons light soy sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 to 3 fresh peach halves

1 large fresh peach, peeled and cut in wedges for garnish

Cream cheese

Red-tip lettuce

Paprika

Combine all ingredients except cream cheese, lettuce and peaches until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, place a small dollop of cream cheese in center of lettuce cup and set a peach half in cream cheese to hold in place. Repeat with remaining lettuce and peach halves. Fill peach halves with chicken salad and garnish with a peach wedge. Sprinkle with paprika.

Beyond Peach Cobbler

Peach Smoothies

1 ripe peach, peeled, pitted and cut in chunks

1 banana

4 tablespoons orange juice

2 ice cubes

1 cup peach yogurt

Place peach chunks, banana, orange juice and ice cubes in blender. Cover and process until ice cubes are broken up and fruit is pureed. Add yogurt; puree until smooth. Makes 4 servings.

Beyond Peach Cobbler (Morris Press)

Fresh sourcesTo find orchards and farmers markets that sell fresh peaches, go to Cincinnati

.Com, keyword: you pick.




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