Summer dishes that celebrate the savoury side of peaches
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
A perfectly ripe local peach can be one of summer’s sweetest treats. But the following recipes show that this fragrant fruit can also mingle with savoury ingredients to create seasonal dishes that won’t disappoint.
With farmers’ markets now overflowing with a glowing array of fruits and vegetables, it can be all the more tempting to come home with a trunk full of sun-soaked delights. Just make sure your market haul also includes a bushel of the sensual fruit known as the peach. Few would put up much of an argument—after all, sweet-tart, perfectly ripe, juicy peaches are one of summer’s ultimate edible pleasures. And the fact these sun-kissed members of the stone fruit family are also nutritional bell ringers only makes them more alluring. While a very sensible way to eat a hazardously juicy peach is by leaning over the kitchen sink with napkin nearby, you can also make the most of summer’s great fragrant, fleeting fruit by exploring its savoury side with these sunny peach recipes.
Not just great tasting, peaches also provide a few nutritional highlights worth taking note of. Namely, they are a good source of vitamin C.
A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that higher intakes of vitamin C might be associated with improved blood pressure numbers. These crave-worthy fruits also supply vitamin A, potassium, and dietary fibre to make them as satisfying as they are delicious.
Here’s how to get the most out of the much-too-short peach season.
When purchasing peaches, look for unblemished fruits that are firm, yet give slightly to the touch. A pleasing sweet fragrance is also a good sign. Green near the stem indicates the peach was picked too early. On the flip side, wrinkled skin is a sign of over-ripening.
Ripe peaches that aren’t going to be enjoyed in a day or two should be kept in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. Peaches like to breathe, so try storing them in a paper bag with some holes poked through.
Hard peaches should be ripened at room temperature by placing them stem side down in a single layer. Stacking peaches can encourage bruising, while chilling the fruit in the refrigerator before they are ripe can lead to loss of flavour and a mealy texture. To hasten ripening, you can place peaches in a paper bag on the kitchen counter.
In the off-season, imported peaches will do in a pinch, but they’re hardly anything to get excited about. So purchase a few extra cartons when available from local sources and freeze some of the bounty for a sweet reminder of sunnier days.
To freeze, spread pitted ripe peach halves or quarters on a baking sheet, making sure they are not touching each other. A light brushing of lemon juice or ascorbic acid can help the peaches maintain their colour. Place the tray in the freezer until solid and then store them in the freezer in an airtight container until needed for smoothies, sauces, and baked goods.
There are two main peach classifications: clingstone, with flesh that firmly adheres to the pit, and freestone, with flesh that is easily separated from the pit.
Within these categories are dozens of varieties including New Haven, Red Baron, and the whimsical Donut, worth exploring as they deliver delicious flavour and texture nuances. Also, keep an eye out for white flesh peaches, which tend to be very sweet with low acidity.