Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Very Peachy

Several years ago, my father gave us a seedling peach tree.  Last year, we had a small harvest, but this year, we are experiencing a bountiful one.  Our refrigerator is loaded with the small blushing fruits and the recipes I’ve made with them.  I prepared for this harvest by looking for recipes and preservation ideas, and I’ve been busy the last week “putting up” our harvest.  Our peaches are a little sour tasting, but I like that.  The flesh is red near the stone; I’ve heard these referred to as firestone peaches.  

I looked for recipes that enabled me to serve the peaches without covering up their flavor with too much sugar and that were not too laborious.  Also, I wanted to serve some of them raw, to best preserve some of their nutrients, especially the vitamin C.  Peaches also have potassium, phosphorus, folate, flavonoids, and a good amount of fiber.  The carotenes (vitamin A) become more absorbable after cooking.  I also found some internet sources (do a search for nutrients in peaches) that suggested peaches have lycopene and lutein.  Lycopene is a type of carotene and an important antioxidant found only in red fleshed fruits, such as red tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.  Peaches without red flesh will not have lycopene.

I’ll write more about the cancer fighting properties of lycopene in a later post, but it is also one of those nutrients that enhances the SPF of your skin (see my post on Sunscreen Regulations).  Lycopene is better absorbed if cooked, and eaten with a small amount of fat and vitamin E, which makes almonds a good companion food for raw and cooked peaches: try bread with almond butter and peach slices.

I always adjust recipes to make them healthier, to fit my family’s preferences, or to reflect what I have on hand, so I’ll give you a few notes with the links to the recipes I have tried.  Some adjustments I made to all the recipes: I did not peel any of the fruits.  This saves time, and it gives you the benefit of the fiber and other nutrients that are in the peel.  Also, I always use a little less sugar or sweetener than recipes call for.  I’m happy to hear your suggestions or ideas about these recipes, too.  

To serve the peaches raw, I made Peach Salsa.  I left out the lime juice, honey, and bell pepper.  My peaches are juicy and I don’t like sweet salsa, but I’m guessing the lime juice would help the peaches keep their color.  We ate this on tacos and with scrambled eggs.  I also made Peach Popsicles, which are not technically raw, but they aren’t cooked.  I used only one kind of peach and substituted agave syrup for the honey; since it is sweeter, I thought the popsicles wouldn’t need the extra sweetener suggested by the recipe.  They probably would be better with more sweetener, but they were fine, though a little tart.  Also, I used chamomile tea bags (see left).  After I uploaded the image to the left, I finally found the recipe on-line, and here’s the website of the authors, People's Pops.  They make popsicles out of the fresh fruit and herbs available locally, which is such a cool idea.

I cooked a Spiced Fresh Peach Chutney, leaving out the red pepper and grating the garlic and ginger.  Unless you really like ginger, you may want to use a little less.  We ate this with plain yogurt, with meat, and as a side dish.  Dorothy, the blogger at Shockingly Delicious also has a number of interesting recipes I plan to try; I'm so glad I found her blog.  I also canned some Fruit Cocktail, which is easier than it sounds.  

Since the recipe is not specific, here is what I used: 3 large apples, 3 medium pears, and enough small peaches to have equal amounts of each fruit.  I wanted extra light syrup, so I used 5 cups of water to 2 cups of sugar.  This wasn’t quite enough to fill all 8 of my pint jars, so I added some hot water to the measuring cup that had sugar clinging to it and topped off the last 2 jars with that.  I also used 1 tablespoon lime juice per pint; this enhances the acidity, lessening the chance of spoilage.  The blogger at Mud Pies to Sticky Buns has posted many canning recipes and links to other canning sites.

My girls have liked the fruit cocktail the best; we are going through a pint a day, so next time I’ll make it in quarts.  I also used the syrup leftover after we ate the fruit to make smoothies: 1 cup kefir or yogurt, 5 small peaches, about ½ cup of syrup whirled in the blender.

You can read about what I prepared with the 2012 peach harvest here.

SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life by Steven Pratt, M.D.


  1. Hi Elisa,
    Thank you for trying my Spiced Peach Chutney! I do love my ginger...

    Here's another peach recipe you might like. I call it Spiced Peaches (it is not a chutney). http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/spiced-peaches-the-utility-player-of-the-kitchen/

    And then you might also like to try this Fresh Blueberry Sauce, and put it over your fresh sliced peaches: http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/fresh-blueberry-sauce-in-15-minutes/


  2. Dorothy:

    I am planning to try the Spiced Peaches, probably today! The blueberry sauce sounds great, too. Thanks for the suggestions.

  3. My husband and I planted a grapefruit tree and orange tree several months ago. Any suggestions for a great harvest in such a short time as you have experienced! We hope to plant more plants and trees when we get a little better at this!

  4. We have two citrus trees: a lemon that came with the house when we bought it six years ago, and a mandarin orange tree we planted after we moved in. Last December, we harvested from them both for the first time, but it was not a lot; we are hoping for more this year. Citrus trees need to be watered well to grow and produce fruit once they have flowered, especially in this drought.

    Also, my father-in-law recommended that we drive some nails into the lemon tree to make it grow taller and flower; my husband thinks that is why it fruited last year. I have no idea if this worked or why it would, but you could try it once your trees are a few years older.

    Fruit trees generally take about 5 years to produce; the peach tree we have is fast growing, so it produced after only 3 or 4 years. By the time your trees are fruiting, Alicia, your children should be able to help you carry in the harvest! If you find out a way to get the fruit sooner, let me know.

    BTW, does anyone want peach seeds? I still have peaches left, so I could save some seeds. Let me know!


Your feedback, reactions, and ideas are appreciated!

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