My favourite part of the summer is when the peaches start showing up. Fresh Ontario peaches from the Niagara Region are the best. I usually wait (it’s hard but I am finally learning) for the third week of them before I buy baskets of them to make anything with. The first ones are a little hard and tasteless.
This is important- peaches need to smell like peaches to taste like peaches. SNIFF BEFORE YOU BUY. People may laugh at you but you be the one eating a real peach.
Clingstone are the sweetest and if you want to make anything out of them (instead of eating them out of your hand) the pits are stuck to the peach like nobody’s business. They make great jam and baked goods where perfect slices are not a big deal. You can suck the last of the peach off the pit if you are careful.* Those things have sharp ends! They are really sweet and best for just eating in the privacy of your home because you know the juice is going to be running all over your face, hands and neck. You can’t get nice slices from these and it’s frowned on to gnaw on the peach and then serve a dish made with them. *note to my lovely family- I would never, ever do that. Really.
Freestone are the ones that cut nicely off the pits. They are the babies to use if you want pretty pies, flans and slices for salads. But they aren’t as sweet. These are what we find around here in the supermarkets. I used to see Clingstone at the farmers’ market but haven’t for years. I’m sure it’s because I don’t get there early enough.
There are white fleshed peaches (no taste to me and expensive), hybrid semi-freestone (never seen these but I would love to meet them) and Donut peaches (white flesh, sort of flat squished looking like a– wait for it–donut!).
How do you peel a peach you ask? It’s so easy! Boil water in a pan. Keep it simmering. Take your peach and mark an X in the bottom of it cutting through the skin and pop it in the water. Give it a minute or less and take it out with a slotted spoon. Place it in a bowl of ice water. Give it another minute and then peel the skin off starting at the bottom with your fingers. I get a rhythm going where I drop 3 peaches in the water, take them out and chill them. While the first are chilling put the next batch in the hot water. Peel the three, drop the next 3 in the ice water, place 3 more in the hot, peel the 3 in the bowl. The timing is right. I’m sure I didn’t get those instructions in the right order for you but I know what I meant and you will as soon as you get started. I peeled a basket of 18 peaches in 15 minutes.
This basket made me one batch of ice cream and one smallish peach crisp.
- Mix the peaches, sugar, lemon and extracts together in a large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. The peaches will release juices and dissolve the sugar. If you have too many large chunks mash them up. You could use a food processor but I like pieces in my ice cream.
- Place in your ice cream maker along with the cream and churn for 20 minutes or so (for Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment) until you have a very thick, soft consistency.
- Place in a container, cover the ice cream surface with saran wrap and put a lid on it. Freeze for around 6 hours.
- My yield is a guesstimate.
We just had a Labour Day BBQ. Cakelets and Mr. G had *shudder* burgers and sausages and this veggie had a Gardein Ultimate Meatless burger with potato salad and potato chips. VEGAN peach crisp (haha guys, I never told you that did I and you loved it!), and peach ice cream for dessert. I am ready for a nap in the sun….