Perfect Peach Desserts

Summertime's favorite fruit is at its best when picked ripe from a local orchard. Use peaches in cobblers, pies, ice cream, and more!

By FamilyTime


Peach pie, peach cobbler, peach shortcake, peach ice cream, peaches and cream…or just a plain peach eaten out of hand. Yummm. Sublime!

When it is perfectly ripe, nothing beats a peach. Bite the soft, giving fruit, through the fuzzy skin and into the sweet, juicy flesh and you are transported to summer heaven. If you remember peaches from your childhood, a taste of a ripe peach now will bring those taste memories flooding back.

But peaches can also be hard, unforgiving fruit, with tasteless, dry flesh. The trick is to buy the best you can.

For baking and other peachy desserts, choose wisely.

A Peach of a Selection
Choose peaches that give to gentle pressure, are free of bruises, and that smell the way they should: light and fragrant.

Don't be fooled into thinking the amount of rosy blush in the skin indicates a ripe peach. The coloring depends on the variety. Avoid any that still have hints of green.

The best peaches are in the farmers markets and stores from late June through August. This is when you are most likely to find ripe peaches plucked from a tree in a nearby local orchard.

Unripe peaches will soften and turn juicy as they sit, but they won't get much sweeter. To promote this ripening process, store hard unripe peaches in a bowl for a few days, or, to help the process, enclose them in a paper bag with an apple or banana. The fruits' gasses interact with each other to help ripening.

A Peach By Any Other Name
Peaches are related to cherries, plums, apricots, and nectarines -- the so-called stone fruits or drupes. Their center pit is wrinkled and depending on how tightly the fruit clings to it, they may be known as clingstone or freestone peaches.

Nectarines are not hybrids of peaches, as some believe, but their own fruit. They resemble peaches in taste, appearance, and texture, although they are covered with smooth, not fuzzy, skin.

You can use nectarines in place of peaches pretty much anytime you want. The key is to choose ripe fruit. If nectarines are riper than the peaches in the market, select them.

Peachy Preparations
Nothing surpasses a fresh peach as a whole fruit to eat from your hand. Wash it first and rub the fuzz gently under the running water to minimize it. The fuzz is harmless but not everyone likes it.

If you plan to peel the peaches for baking or another culinary use, dip the peaches in boiling water for 20 or 30 seconds. The skins slip right off.

Slice the peaches in half and rotate the two halves. They will separate very easily from the center pit, or if need be, scoop out the pit with the tip of a knife.

Cut or slice the peach and toss the cut pieces immediately with citrus juice or wine to prevent discoloration.

Pile the sliced peaches in a pie shell or deep baking dish and cover them with dough or crumble. Depending on the recipes and the sweetness of the fruit, you may want to sprinkle the slices with granulated sugar.

Make peach shortcake just as you would strawberry shortcake. Slice the peaches and pile them on biscuits or sponge cake. Top with clouds of sweetened whipped cream.

If you are making peach ice cream - one of the best treats of summer - roughly mash the peaches to mix with the cream mixture. If you add large chunks, they will harden as they freeze and the texture will be unpleasant.

Peaches can be poached, baked, and grilled. Keep these preparations simple, dressing them up with nothing more than ground almonds and honey, or a little brown sugar.

Peaches and Other Fruit

As delicious as peaches are on their own, they also blend with other fruits. Try a peach and raspberry cobbler, for instance. Peach and blueberry crisp is great.

Peaches are wonderful additions to fruit salads. Slice them last and toss with citrus juice to keep them from browning but don't hesitate to mix them with berries, melon, or other summer fruits.

These small, golden colored fruits are truly a summertime treasure! Enjoy them as often as you can.