In Pennsylvania, peach season is in full swing by the last week of July. Whether you pick your own at a local orchard or purchase them at your neighborhood farmers’ market, peaches are a wonderful addition to any summer diet. They are full of vitamin C and are a good source of potassium and fiber. They contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
When selecting peaches, choose fruit that yields slightly to pressure. Firm is fine but hard fruit should be avoided. Any sign of green reveals fruit that has been picked prematurely. Smell is a good indicator of the level of flavor.
If your peaches are firm, they can be kept at room temperature until soft. Once peaches are ripe, refrigerate them to help maintain their condition. Be sure to bring your peach to room temperature before eating to release all of the flavor and juices.
Once you’ve harvested your peaches, experiment with different recipes to enjoy this delicious summer fruit. Here are two to get you started:
BLACKBERRY-PEACH COFFEE CAKE
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and sliced fresh firm, ripe peaches (about 2 large peaches, 7 oz. each)
1 cup fresh blackberries
Garnish: fresh blackberries, sliced peaches
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan; top with sliced peaches and blackberries. Pinch off 1-inch pieces of Streusel Topping, and drop over fruit.
4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until center of cake is set. (A wooden pick inserted in center will not come out clean.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours). Dust with powdered sugar. Garnish, if desired.
CAROLINA PEACH SANGRIA
1 (750-milliliter) bottle rosé wine
3/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup peach nectar*
6 tablespoons thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 (6-oz.) package fresh raspberries
2 cups club soda, chilled
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a pitcher; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peaches and raspberries. Cover and chill 8 hours.
2. Stir in chilled club soda just before serving.
*Peach-flavored vodka may be substituted. Omit peach nectar.