Juicy Peaches, Gems of Summertime
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Bursting with natural juicy sweetness and an unmistakable perfume, rosy-skinned peaches may bring back memories for you. Maybe you recall picking peaches at the orchard, visiting the farmers market or a roadside stand, or plucking the fruit from a neighbor’s tree. For me, the memory of my grandmother and her flaky homemade peach cobbler, bubbling hot from the oven brings back sweet memories and has my taste buds singing.
Peaches are filling baskets at farmers markets, roadside stands, and produce counters at supermarkets, just waiting on you. For the best peaches, select those that are slightly soft to firm and free from bruises. Avoid green-colored peaches, they are unripe and will not become sweeter as the color changes.
Ripe peaches will have a creamy or golden undertone. The amount of rosy “blush”on the surface is characteristic of the variety, not ripeness. It is important to remember, peaches bruise easily, so handle them carefully. To test for ripeness, press fruit gently between your finger and thumb. The fruit should feel firm, but have a little give.
Peaches that are very firm may be stored on the kitchen counter for 2 to 4 days to finish ripening. Once ripe, refrigerate and eat within 3 to 4 days. Ripe peaches should be refrigerated in a single layer to prevent bruising and spoilage.
Once you have found your perfect peach, simply wash and bite into it. Fresh, high quality peaches are low in calories, only about 53 calories for medium-size, despite their sweet taste. Fruits are an important source of fiber and many nutrients. Although the actual amount of nutrients may seem small, their contribution is significant if 2 to 3 servings of fruit are eaten daily.
If you want a quick way to peel peaches, for a cobbler or pie, dip the peach in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds. Immediately dip into cold water and the skin will slip right off. Riper peaches need less scalding time to loosen peels.
When peeling peaches for a recipe, remember they brown rapidly when exposed to air. To prevent this, soak halves or slices for 5 minutes in 1 quart of water with 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 crushed 500 milligram vitamin C tablets or a commercial ascorbic acid you can buy over the counter.
You can get your locally grown peaches at the Gateway Farmers Market on corner of Broad and East 9th in Texarkana AR. They are open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 until sold out. The old saying, “the early bird gets the worm” applies to peaches at the market.
Once you get your peaches, make my grandmothers peach cobbler recipe. There are no shortcuts here but the delicious result is worth every minute. I am sharing her recipe with you again.
Grandma Brown’s Peach Cobbler
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 pounds fresh peaches-peeled, pitted and sliced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons margarine, melted
- 3 tablespoons cinnamon and sugar mixture
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt.
- Work in the shortening with a pastry blender or fork and knife until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cold water.
- Sprinkle over the flour mixture, and work with hands to form dough into a ball.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out half of dough on a floured surface one eighth inch thick.
- Place in the bottom of a 9x13 pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake crust for 20 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, mix the peaches, and lemon juice. Add one half cup butter or margarine, and cook over medium-low heat until melted.
- In a mixing bowl combine 3 cups sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cornstarch; mix into peach mixture.
- Remove from heat and pour into baked crust.
- Roll remaining dough to a thickness of one fourth inch.
- Cut into half-inch wide strips.
- Weave strips into lattice over peaches.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar mixture and drizzle with 3 tablespoons melted margarine.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.
Click here for your copy of Arkansas Fresh Peaches, or contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. Click to learn how to Preserve Peaches
By Carla Due
Miller County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854