The greatest culinary product the world has to offer has arrived locally. the simple peach is, lets face it, a gift to all of mankind from a higher power. its perfectly fuzzy skin, sweet taste, wonderfully satisfying texture, and head spinning aroma culminate locally in late summer to offer us what can only be described as culinary nirvana. i have waited for almost 10 months to eat one, and today i had four of them.
Locally peaches just showed in my neck of the woods in the last few days. in the last 5 years i have slowly been becoming slightly obsessed with them. i ate them canned (thanks grandma)in a light syrup often as a child, and dont remember them affecting me as they do now. they are one of the few foods that i would rather starve then to eat out of season. i just really think they are worth waiting for. my all time favorite meal is steel cut oats with peaches, cream, and brown sugar. with some good weather we will continue to see them locally until mid to late September. i eat them from the box as the skin doesnt bother me in the least bit, but a trick to peeling them is to score the skin in an X patter on the bottom, then drop them into plenty of boiling water, let them sit in the water for only a few seconds and remove them to an ice water bath. if the peach is ripe the skin should be very easily removed at that point with your fingers or with some very slight agitation with a paper towel. they pair perfectly with fish, pork, cheeses, and make amazing desserts of all kinds. there are 100's of different types of peaches but in the kitchen the key words are "freestone" and "cling". Cling peaches cling to their pit. to use them in the kitchen you have to cut them off from the pit. Freestones should be able to be halved and then split, leaving the pit in one side, then easily removed. i like freestones as they present a bit nicer, and you get more usage from them, but they are usually not available as early as clings are. a nectarine (a very close relative) in my eyes is still amazing but doesnt have the same value. in recent years you are seeing an increase in some "heirloom" styles (we will talk about that term soon) even in your local grocery stores. white peaches are desired for their amazing white to red and pink hues. doughnut peaches are squatty and shorter than the normal varieties you see, but still amazing. last year we were able to procure some white doughnut peaches from a small farm in Washington that absolutely blew my mind. my intent is always to buy enough when they are in season to make some jam, jelly, and to do some canning, but i never can keep them around long enough. from a versatility standpoint they cant be beat, and the smell alone will put me in a gloriously happy stupor.