Local peaches are the sweetest, juiciest peaches available — but they’re only in season for a handful of weeks every year. This means it’s crucial to take advantage of them while you can! When perfectly ripe, they are best eaten au naturel — but they can also be cooked using almost any method: baking, roasting, broiling, sautéing, puréeing and even grilling. Keep in mind that the sugars caramelize when cooked; this means your peaches will become sweeter and their flavour more concentrated.
Want to learn more about peaches? Here are five things you may not know:
1. Peaches are in season from late July through August. When you’re at the store or farmer’s market, select blemish-free fruits with a soft and fuzzy skin. The fruit should be very fragrant; give them a quick sniff, the stronger the scent, the more intense the flavour.
2. Typically you will find yellow peaches in grocery stores, but you can also find white peaches and doughnut peaches (sometimes called Saturn peaches). Yellow and white peaches are both round with a fuzzy skin and can be used interchangeably in recipes (yellow peaches tend to be slightly more acidic than white peaches). The doughnut peach has a flat, round shape and tends to be less fuzzy and slightly sweeter than other varieties.
3. There are two types of peaches, clingstone and freestone. The flesh in a freestone peach separates from the stone easily when the fruit is cut in half, whereas with clingstone peaches, as the name suggests, the flesh clings to the stone. Clingstone are perfect for eating, but pick up freestone for easy pitting, slicing and dicing for recipes like Indian-style chutney or quick peach jam.
4. To pit freestone peaches, cut along the pit from the stem end and twist to open and remove the stone. You can still pit clingstone peaches, it just takes a little more work. Run the knife cross-wise around the pit before twisting and cutting out the stone.
5. While peaches and nectarines are two different fruits, they share many similarities and genes. The main difference comes from the fuzz on the skin of peaches (nectarines have a smooth skin). Nectarines also tend to be smaller and slightly sweeter. In a pinch, a nectarine can be used as a substitution in a recipe.
Did you know?
Ontario leads Canada in peach and nectarine production! Ontario produces 82% of Canada’s peaches and nectarines.