Since August is Jersey Fresh Peach Month, it seems worthy to relate some interesting facts and trivia about peaches, how to pick the perfect peach and what to do with the ones that are slightly bruised or over-ripe, as well as New Jersey Peach Promotion Council’s featured “Recipe of the Month.”
Peaches are possibly the most celebrated fruit in New Jersey. If you can resist biting into a whole peach or slicing it and eating it au natural the minute you buy one, there are many different ways to prepare and eat this fruit. You can grill it or even skin it, slice it and freeze it for a fresh treat long after the season ends in September.
So popular is the peach that New Jersey governors declare August "Jersey Fresh Peach Month," when peaches are at their peak. The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council has been sponsoring and promoting various peach events (this year starting July 21st and going through August) at farmers markets, supermarkets and restaurants. This year, there are more than 20 Peach Parties and other peach events throughout New Jersey in more than 20 counties and all along the Jersey Shore.
Preserving peaches, like our mothers and grandmothers did a century ago, is popular again. According to Pam Mount, farmer extraordinaire of Terhune Orchards, "While canning takes some time, with blanching the peaches, packing them in special vacuum jars and heat-sealing the jars in canning pots, freezing them is quick as one-to-three, and you have virtually fresh peaches for any time you crave them, or you can put them in a pie-shell and have peach pie any time of year.”
is Pam's Recipes for freezing fresh and freezer peach jam:
Fresh peaches: 1 quart of fruit
Mix together 1/4 tsp. of ascorbic acid (available in health food stores and gourmet supermarkets) and 1/4 cup of water in a container that you can freeze peaches in. This is to keep peaches from turning brown.
Peel and slice peaches (if left on, skin gets tough in freezer)
Put peaches into ascorbic acid-water mixture and stir gently to coat. Add sugar if you like them real sweet.
Cover container and put in freezer. If you want slices separated, freeze enough to harden, then separate slices and put back in freezer until needed. A good combination is mixed peaches and raspberries frozen together. You can prepare raspberries the same way.
Freeze for Pie
For a delicious peach or peach-raspberry pie, coat fruit with the same ascorbic acid-water mixture (sugar optional). Follow your favorite peach pie recipe for the filling, but don't cook it. Turn the filling mixture into a pie pan (without the crust) and freeze. When frozen, remove the formed peach pie filling from the pie pan and place in plastic bag, back in freezer. When ready to make the pie, buy or make pie crust and line your pie pan same size as what you froze peaches in; do not bake. Then carefully slide frozen filling out of plastic bag into crust. Bake pie according to recipe.
Freeze for Jam
1) Cut peaches into small chunks
2) Mix with pectin to thicken. Add sugar if you like it sweet
3) Put in plastic tub and freeze till ready to use
Nutritionally, Peaches are low in calories, high in fiber: a medium size peach has just 35 calories and 2.6 grams of fiber. Peaches are rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamins A & C, important to maintain good health and skin. Antioxidants are substances that protect the body by eliminating free radicals, which cause cell damage and can contribute to aging. The sun brings out free radicals in the skin and antioxidants protect skin cells by counteracting free radical activity.
New Jersey Peach
Council’s Featured Recipe of the Month is from the Barnsboro Inn, Sewell:
Chef Tom Budd’s Peach Salad
2 peeled white peaches, sliced
1 peeled yellow peach, sliced
¼ cup red onion sliced
⅛ cup toasted almond slices
⅓ cup shredded prosciutto
½ cup blue cheese
1 lb. spring mix
Blueberry port wine vinaigrette
Blue Port Wine
½ cup chopped blueberries
¼ cup olive oil
⅛ cup red wine vinegar
⅛ cup port wine
⅛ cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 basil leaves chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Mix well and toss into salad.
For a refreshing peach drink this summer, try making Peach Vinegar Scrub. Shrubs, sometimes called drinking vinegars, are an infusion of fruit, sugar, and acid. They were developed to preserve fruit before refrigeration existed and are a great way to use up slightly bruised or overripe seasonal fruit. This easy peach shrub starts by macerating peaches with sugar for two days and then adding vinegar and basil leaves. After about a week, the infusion is strained and you’re left with a potent sweet-tart drinking vinegar that has the essence of peach and a touch of herb flavor, ready to be turned into a nonalcoholic spritzer or added to cocktails.
To make a peach shrub spritzer, combine 2 parts club soda with 1 part peach shrub and pour over ice. Taste and add more club soda or shrub as needed. This recipe is from Suzy Brannon, Product Manager at Chow.com. See her video here for step-by-step instructions.
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* Grilled Peaches-to-Perfection photo is from Kraft.com/recipes.