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A Sweet Taste of Sunshine

Peaches are the food of kings and royalty. They are extra sweet, filled with juice that runs with each bite, and are versatile. They lend themselves to any meal and are a snack time treat. Eating them fresh and cold is just about the finest indulgence when hot winds blow and the temperature rises.

There are two kinds: namely, clingstone, which are fantastic canned, or freestone, where the pit just slips out with little effort. Fresh peaches should smell "fresh". Don't buy those that are hard or greenish. They won't ripen and will probably decay before they are fit to eat. They were picked green for shipping purposes and to maintain shelf life, but were not given the chance to mature on the tree to ripen with heavenly juices and soft moist flesh.

Peaches discolor quickly so if using in salads or on top of dessert dishes, sprinkle with lemon juice to avoid darkening. If you wish to skin a peach, start at the stem end and separate a bit of skin from the flesh with a small knife, such as a paring knife. Pull the skin off in strips.

For a gourmet fresh salad, layer sliced peaches, fresh mozzarella cheese slices and fresh basil leaves. Season with sea salt and just a tad of olive oil over the top. Perfect, light, and just plain good.

Peaches also work well in salsas. For chicken or fish items, use peaches, cucumbers, red or green bell peppers, red onions, and just picked diced zucchini. Mix lime juice, olive oil and a tiny pinch of sea salt for a dressing. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and cilantro. Serve in individual dishes or right over grilled chicken pieces or fresh grilled fish. The colors are bright, the flavor is zesty, and the extra touch makes any meal a feast.

Peaches can be sliced, panfried with a tiny bit of butter, just enough to glaze a bit. Sprinkle with brown sugar, not too much, as the peaches are already sweet, and a quick dash of vanilla. When the mixture is warm, place over vanilla ice cream in cups or bowls. The warm peach mixture melts right into the creamy ice cream for a treat that young and old will find irresistible.

Peaches can even be a main part of any kabob you may be planning for your menu. Whether it is steak bits, large shrimp, or even pork medallions, added right along with green/red bell peppers and onion wedges - they are unbelievably the best addition to any BBQ. A quick marinade would be honey, a bit of mustard, minced garlic and thyme brushed on just before grilling. A neat idea is to use a wooden spoon and tie with twine some thyme, marjoram leaves, or even cilantro or parsley and brush your kabobs. This is the freshest way to get extra flavor with a "flick" of a wooden spoon. Neat, quick, and well, fancy if the guests are watching you do your BBQ magic.

Peaches are best fresh, of course, but during the winter months, canned work well. Use your peaches in cereals, hot or cold, diced and mixed in plain or vanilla yogurt, and well, the possibilities are endless and just whatever your imagination can think of. They are sweet and good for you, and the memory of summer-time peaches will keep you waiting for the summer season when cold winter winds blow. Something to think about.
©Arleen M. Kaptur
August, 2007

Arleen M. Kaptur has written many books and articles on everyday living and finding peace and joy in all we do.