I’m incredulous when I hear someone say they don’t like peaches. Say whaaaaat?? These must be the people who’ve only ever had mediocre peaches because, really, if they could ever experience the sheer joy of eating a peach right off the tree, they’d change their tune.
Peaches come in two varieties: really good ones and mediocre ones. A really good peach is just ever-so-slightly squeezable and a tiny bit warm. It’s best plucked right from the tree on a warm August day. A really good peach is never cold, because once it’s refrigerated, boom! It becomes mediocre. Something strange happens in the refrigerator that changes a peach from irresistible to unappealing. It’s transformed into something that should be used up fast, maybe in a smoothie, before it spoils even more.
Just like strawberries, peaches need to be eaten soon after picking. Late summer peaches are the best for cooking. They are usually freestone, which means that their pits or stones slip out easily, unlike cling peaches in which the fruit clings to the pit. Annoying.
Once a peach is picked, it stops ripening. Really. It may get softer, but it’s simply starting to rot rather than ripening. Getting your peaches from a farmer’s market will likely increase your chances of getting tree-ripened fruit. You want the really good ones, remember? Not the mediocre ones. Search for them. It’s worth it. You’ll thank me.
The only fruit as fabulous as warm, sun-ripened, juicy peaches are warm, sun-ripened, juicy figs. Soft and delicate, they’re just as slurpy and as sweet as a peach. While eating either of these fruits fresh from the tree is beyond comparison, we’re often faced with a whole lotta fruit that ripens all at once, and it’s good to be able to play with the flavours and create something new. These Caramelized Peaches and Figs just oooooooooze “summertime”. This dessert can be whipped up in less than ten minutes while the crowd is digesting their dinner. If you don’t have figs, don’t despair. Peaches would be good paired with bananas in this dish too.
Caramelized Peaches and Fresh Figs
Serves 8 – 10
4 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar, or Demerara, or brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
5 – 6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
4 fresh figs, quartered with stems trimmed. (No need to peel fresh figs)
1. Put butter and sugar in a cast-iron frying pan. Stir until well combined. Add the vanilla and stir until the mixture is golden brown and begins to smell like caramel, about 3 – 5 minutes. (Resist the urge to just have a taste. You’ll burn your tongue. Trust me.)
2. Add the fruit and very gently stir to coat. Continue to cook, watching closely until the fruit is glazed but not mushy, about 2 – 3 minutes. Serve immediately with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Do you like peaches? What are your favourite ways to eat them?
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