KEARNEYSVILLE – Yes, the apple reflects the diversity and melting-pot culture of early American life, but so does the peach.
What’s better than a ripe peach, just picked? To me, the image of biting in and letting the succulent juice run down my chin is the perfect symbol of good ole summer time.
I spoke recently with Robin Mullikin at Jefferson Orchards Inc. and learned the spring’s freeze so damaged peach blossoms that local orchards lost most of their crops.
But happily Mullikin reported that Jefferson Orchards’ fruit stand does have a Century variety on hand.
The peach is a delicate fruit that can be used in so many ways: fresh off the tree, sliced on cereal, baked in a pie or cobbler, in peach jam and preserves, in homemade ice-cream, cold-packed to enjoy later in the year.
As a delicate fruit, the peach must be handled with care to avoid bruising; however, bruising will not hamper use in recipes if you peel off the bruises along with the skin.
One way to remove the skin is by blanching. This loosens the skin and makes it easy to peel.
Your first step will be to take a sharp knife and put an X on the bottom of each peach. Later, that cut will give you leverage to easily remove the skin.
Also, be sure and have a bowl of ice water next to the stove. You’ll want to submerge your peaches and let them cool, then place them on a towel and pat them dry.
The size of the pan you’ll use for the blanching varies according to how many peaches you’re dealing with. You want to make sure you have enough water to entirely submerge the fruit.
Once you’ve brought the water to a boil and placed your peaches in the water, you’ll blanch them only for around 40 seconds. If your peaches are slightly underripe, allow them to remain in the water a little longer – up to a full minute.
Whether you have on hand peaches, cherries, strawberries, apples, blueberries or some other favorite fruit, there’s a sweet, simple way to showcase the bounty: Cobbler, cobbler, cobbler.
Making a cobbler isn’t much work, and it’s fun. Here’s a quick and easy peach cobbler recipe that I hope works for you.
You’ll need six blanched peaches. Once you’ve taken off the peel, slice the peaches all the way around. Next, twist the two halves to separate them from the pit, and pop the pit out.
Slice your fruit into bite-sized pieces but be careful; peeled peaches are slippery. Add ¾ cup of sugar, mix well and sit aside.
For your batter, just combine ¾ cup flour, ¾ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt and ¾ cup milk and stir. What could be simpler?
Now to assemble your cobbler: Melt ¼ cup of butter and place in a 9-x-13 baking dish. Add your peaches and distribute evenly. Pour the batter over the fruit, but don’t stir it. Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes until the batter is golden brown and cracks have developed in the surface.
The dough will rise a bit as it bakes. If you’d like, put a large baking sheet or foil on the rack under the cobbler to catch any overflow.
This cobbler, warm from the oven and served with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, offers a wonderful summer taste that you’ll remember fondly all year long.
Hope you enjoy it! Let me hear from you about peaches, your recipes for other locally grown favorites or other food-related subjects for this column, which appears in the Spirit every other Wednesday. Reach me by email at email@example.com.