By Suzanne Corbett, Food and Travel Editor, STLSportsPage.com
The final week of the Tokyo Olympics and everything is focused on how much gold the US team will bring home. I also wonder how much I can bring home – the ultimate gold of summer, fresh peaches from the garden. And this year’s peach harvest has brought a summer gold boon to local roadside stalls and farmer’s markets.
Eckert’s Belleville and Grafton branches now offer to pick your own peaches. Passes and time slots can be arranged online.
“We have 200 acres of peaches,” said Chris Eckert of Eckert’s Orchards and Farm Market, explaining the differences between the cling stone and freestone varieties, ”said Chris Eckert, CEO of Eckert’s Farm Orchards. “Clingstone ripens first while freestone ripens late in the season – both have excellent flavor”
Stone peaches are in season now. One of the most popular fisheries is Crest Haven, which has been around for 50 years. It is the picture perfect peach, golden yellow flesh with a red color around the core.
When it comes to buying fresh peaches, the best strategy is to buy what you expect to use in a few days. This is the best way to keep peaches at their optimum flavor. When choosing peaches, if you’ve assessed a peach’s maturity by its blush, don’t. The blush on a peach only indicates its variety. Most tree-ripened peaches require additional ripening.
To ripen the peaches, place them in a paper bag at room temperature on the kitchen counter for 2-3 days. Do not refrigerate unripe peaches. Refrigeration slows down ripening and can make them floury, mushy or dried out. Once the peaches are fully ripe, they will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.
Before heading to the farmer’s market, decide how many peaches you plan to eat fresh, use them in recipes, and how much you want to freeze or keep. If you’re thinking about baking a pie and you’re not sure how many to buy, here’s a quick formula. One pound of peaches is usually equivalent to 3 medium-sized peaches or 2 cups of sliced peaches.
If you want to stock up on this year’s golden harvest, consider freezing. To freeze the peaches, peel, slice and treat with an anti-browning solution, arrange them on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet, and freeze them. Once frozen, remove from the freezer and place the slices in a freezer bag and return to the freezer.
Peaches are easier to peel if they are blanched first. To blanch: Gently immerse the peaches in boiling water for a minute or two, then remove them and immerse them in ice water for a minute. The skin will slip off easily from the peach. Once the peaches or peeled and cut, toss them in lemon juice or a powdered product protectant like Fruit Fresh to prevent browning. Or try my favorite trick, mix them in a little lemon-lime soda.
The following are Eckert’s family favorite fishing recipes. Everything’s Peachy in Eckert’s Cookbook and The Eckert family cookbook.
Canned peaches in the pan
3 cups (heaped) peeled and diced peaches
3 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
12 maraschino cherries, chopped
IN a large skillet, combine the peaches, sugar and lemon juice; mix well. Slowly heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until you have consistently reached the desired level. Stir in the cherries. Remove from fire; let cool completely in the pan. Stir occasionally so that the fruit absorbs the syrup and swells. Pour into small, sterilized jars, filling to 1/2 inch from the top. Close the jars and store in the refrigerator.
Carole’s upside-down peach cake
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 2/3 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond flavor
1/3 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sliced peaches
Beat shortening and sugar together until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well. Put aside. Place the butter and sugar in a baking sheet and heat slowly, stirring constantly, until nicely browned. Add the peaches. Cover with cake batter and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Turn out, peach side up. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream. For 6.
Editor’s note: I add a handful of pecans to the peaches.
Pork tenderloin stuffed with peaches
1 cup peeled and sliced peaches
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
1/4 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound of pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon of orange marmalade
In a bowl, combine the peaches, almonds, breadcrumbs, carrots, onion and ginger; put aside. Cut lengthwise 3/4 of the pork tenderloin; open and flatten to 1/4 inch thick. Spread the peach mixture over the pork tenderloin. Roll up on the long side, fold over the ends and secure with toothpicks. Place a shallow roasting pan on the rack I and brush lightly with oil; Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees or until the meat thermometer reads 155 degrees. Brush the meat with the orange marmalade. Cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Makes 2-3 servings.