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Sweet, juicy and fragrant, peaches are one of the most beautiful fruits around. Around the size of a tennis ball, they are covered with a velvety down, and most commonly have a red-blushed yellow skin and golden yellow flesh, apart from white peaches, which have a pink-blushed cream skin and pinky white flesh. It's possible to find flatish, disc-shaped varieties of peach, but the most common type is spherical, with a little peak (known as a 'beak') at one end. Just like nectarines, they come in either clingstone or freestone varieties - the name indicates how easily the stone is freed from the flesh.
Choose the best
A ripe peach will have a fragrant aroma and will be yellow around the stem. It should feel firm but will yield slightly when it's gently squeezed. Avoid any peaches that feel hard, or that have bruising or mould. Slightly underripe peaches will soften if stored at room temperature, but won't get much sweeter.
Following the line of the dimple, cut around the fruit with a sharp knife, then twist each half apart. Slice or chop as required. If there is too much fuzzy bloom on the skin for your taste, you can rub it off under cold water. Tough skin can be peeled off with your fingers, or drop the peach into boiling water for around 15 or more seconds then plunge immediately into cold water. The skin should then come away easily.
If you are not going to eat cut peaches straight away, brush the cut sides with lemon juice or acidulated water to prevent them going brown.
Slightly underripe peaches can be ripened at room temperature for a day or two. They should then be kept in the fridge in a perforated bag, where they'll keep for a couple of days.
Eat raw, as they are, or slice and add to fruit salads, pavlovas or trifles. Use to make tarts, or serve with vanilla ice cream or cream. Poach (10 minutes for whole; 4-5 for halves). Halve and roast (15-20 minutes).
aches are one of life's pleasures, and summer is the best time to seek them out.
Recipes using peach
By Nathan Outlaw
By Sabrina Ghayour
By James Martin
By The Hairy Bikers
By Maria Elia
Look for fruit that is smooth with soft, velvety skin and a bright complexion and avoid hard or wrinkled peaches with blemishes or green tinges. A ripe peach will yield gently to palm pressure, suggesting a state of being, as William Morris so expressively put it, 'pinch-ripe'. Do not store peaches in the fridge, which can cause their flesh to turn floury or mealy.
Fresh peaches are second to none, and are perfect eaten as they are (with the obligatory peach juices running down faces and arms!), though extra decadence can be added with lashings of freshly whipped cream or a drizzle of honey to enhance their sweetness. Caramelising the flesh on a hot griddle will add an extra dimension, and poaching the fruit in wine is also a worthy way of serving it. Purée the fruit and use in a classic Italian Bellini recipe for a summery cocktail, or chill into an icy sorbet. Tarts, pies and crumbles will all put peaches to good use. Peach
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