The last day of summer is officially September 22nd, but Maggie started back to school weeks ago. As the long days wind down, we must begrudgingly say farewell to peach season. This year, I found myself with an abundance of peaches throughout the summer. Whenever I swiped the last one from the counter to eat in my oatmeal, another batch would show up on my doorstep. Into the house that bag would come. The moment of anticipation and joy of standing over the kitchen sink—house perfectly silent—and biting into the soft flesh, savoring the moment as juice runs down my arm…for me, this is the essence of summer.
All peach lovers know that peaches develop their sweetness and flavor while on the tree. Once they are picked, they just get softer and juicier. Stay away from peaches that are firm and look for those who yield slightly to gentle pressure. To test firmness, don’t poke the fruit with your fingertip; hold the peach in your whole hand and squeeze gently. Peaches that are green around the stem are not yet ripe; shriveled skin means the fruit is too old. The best test for a peach’s flavor is its smell; a peach will taste almost exactly how it smells.
You can store firm peaches at room temperature. Once they begin to turn soft, put them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and plan to eat them soon. If you find yourself with too many peaches, you can freeze them (peeled and sliced) and keep them for up to 6 months.
As a newly converted juicer, I have not yet run out of uses for peaches. Fresh, sweet peach juice is full of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber – and combines well with most other fruit juices. It also makes a perfect mixer for cocktails. This recipe makes two full-sized drinks and works well for brunch, after dinner, or just about any time.
GINGER PEACH SPRITZER (serves 2)
1 to 2 slices fresh ginger
1 to 2 ripe peaches, depending on size
Cold Prosecco or sparkling wine
Blueberries, for garnish (optional)
Blend ginger and peaches together until completely liquefied. Pour into a champagne flute, about ½ – ¾ of the way full. Top with Prosecco or sparkling wine. Drop a few blueberries into the glass for garnish.
For an extra cold beverage, slice and freeze your peach beforehand.