Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peach Ambassador

As you might have guessed, I love peaches! I’m not talking about those supermarket wannabes that are hard as a rock and have little to no taste or smell. I’m talking about those precious jewels you can only find at farmer’s markets, or if you’re lucky, off your own tree. Not to sound corny, but when I bite into a perfectly ripe peach, it’s like biting into a little piece of sunshine. Their season is short (July through mid-September) but it’s that peak of season flavor I look forward to all year long. 

When I first moved to New York, I was pleasantly surprised the east coast had peaches as good as the ones I’d grown up with off my grandparent’s tree in California. However, my co-worker and friend, Maria, told me she had never really cared for peaches and couldn’t understand why I was making such a fuss over them. I was astonished at her indifference! In an effort to prove her wrong, I stopped by my local farmer’s market one August afternoon and bought her a couple of perfectly ripe peaches. After sending her off with them on her lunch break, I was more than pleased when she returned overjoyed with her peachy experience. She couldn’t believe how juicy and flavorful they were. The next day, she asked me to buy an enormous bag that she could share with her entire family. I felt as though I had done my peaches proud, and in a way, became their honorary ambassador! 

Last summer, I canned several jars of peaches with the hopes of enjoying that burst of peachy goodness mid-winter. Though they were delicious, the canning process (cooking them in a light syrup and boiling them for 20 minutes in a water-bath canner) robs them of their fresh flavor. And while I love cooked peaches, they taste completely different when fresh. This year I’ve decided to freeze a few bags instead of canning them. The most they’ll cook for is the 45 seconds they’re in boiling water to remove their skins. I like to freeze them in zip-top bags because they’re they make the perfect serving size. On a dreary winter’s day, I can’t wait to defrost a bag of fresh peaches and sneak in a little sunshine!

Tips on buying and storing peaches:

  • There should be no green
  • They should be firm with a little give (not rock hard, but not mushy)
  • Peaches should smell like they taste: sweet!
  • Place in a paper bag if not fully ripened
  • Store in the refrigerator if too ripe to slow down deterioration

Adapted from Alton Brown, foodnetwork.com

1 teaspoon adult flavorless chewable vitamin C, powdered 
1/4 cup sugar 
1 pound ripe peaches (about 3 to 4 peaches)

Label and date two sandwich-size zip-top bags. Crush the vitamin C tablets in a mortar and pestle to create a powder (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place the vitamin C tablets in a zip-top bag, wrap the bag in a kitchen towel, and hit it a few times with a kitchen mallet or hammer). Place ½ teaspoon of vitamin C in each of the bags along with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Next, slice a large “x” on the bottom of each of your peaches (opposite stem-side) and drop them into a large pot of boiling water for 45 seconds. Remove using a slotted spoon or spider and place them in an ice bath. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins, slice peaches in half, and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into ½-inch thick slices and divide evenly between the two bags. Move the peaches around the bag to thoroughly coat with the sugar and vitamin C mixture.  Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and form a “syrup.” Lay the bags flat and using a straw, suck out any remaining air in the bags. Seal tightly and freeze flat for easy storing. Use within 1 year. 

Serves 2


  • If you prefer a sweeter “syrup,” increase the sugar to 4 tablespoons per bag. Feel free to double or triple this recipe to suit your needs. 

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