By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage.com Food / Travel Editor
The last week of the Tokyo Olympics and it’s all about how much gold Team USA will bring home. I also wonder how much I can take home with me – the ultimate gold of summer, fresh home-grown peaches. And this year’s peach harvest has brought a gold mine of summer to local street stalls and farmers’ markets.
The Eckert locations in Belleville and Grafton now offer peaches that you can pick yourself. Field passes and time slots can be arranged online.
“We have 200 acres of peaches,” said Chris Eckert of Eckert’s Orchards and Farm Market, explaining the differences between Clingstone and Freestone varieties, “said Chris Eckert, CEO of Eckert’s Farm Orchards. “Clingstone ripens first while Freestone ripens late in the season – both have excellent taste”
Freestone peaches are now in season. One of the most popular peaches is the Crest Haven, which has been around for 50 years. It’s the perfect peach, golden yellow flesh with a red color around the pit.
When it comes to buying fresh peaches, the best strategy is to buy what you think you will be using in a few days. It’s the best way to keep peaches in optimal taste. If, when choosing peaches, you measure a peach’s ripeness by its redness, then don’t. The blush on a peach only indicates its diversity. Most tree-ripened peaches require additional ripening.
To ripen, peaches are placed on the kitchen counter in a paper bag at room temperature for 2-3 days. Do not refrigerate unripe peaches. Refrigeration slows ripening and can make them floury, mushy, or dry out. Once peaches are fully ripe, they can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week.
Before going to the farm market, decide how many peaches you want to eat fresh, use them in recipes, as well as the amount you want to freeze or preserve. If you’re planning on making a cake and don’t know how much to buy, here is a quick formula. A pound of peaches is usually the same as 3 medium-sized peaches or 2 cups of sliced ââpeaches.
If you’re looking to stock up on this year’s golden harvest, consider freezing. To freeze, simply peel peaches, cut into slices and treat with an anti-browning solution, then arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the freezer and place the slices in a freezer bag and return to the freezer.
Peaches are easier to peel if they are blanched beforehand. For blanching: Gently add peaches to boiling water for a minute or two, then remove and place in ice water for a minute. The skin will slide off the peach easily. Once peaches are peeled and cut, toss them in lemon juice or a powdered product protector like Fruit Fresh to prevent browning. Or try my favorite trick, toss them in a little lemon and lime soda.
The following recipes are the von Eckert’s family’s most popular peach recipes Everything peach-colored in Eckert’s cookbook and The Eckert family’s cookbook.
3 cups (heaped) peeled and diced peaches
3 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
12 maraschino cherries, chopped
Mix the peaches, sugar and lemon juice IN a large pan; mix well. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the constant you want is reached. Stir in cherries. Take off the stove; Let cool well in the pan. Stir occasionally to let the fruit absorb and top up the syrup. Pour into small sterilized jars and fill 1/2-inch from the top. Close jars and store in the refrigerator.
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 2/3 cup of flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond flavor
1/3 cup butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sliced ââpeaches
Mix the cream and sugar until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat well. Put aside. Put the butter and sugar in a sheet cake tin and heat slowly, stirring constantly, until they are well browned. Add peaches. Cover with cake batter and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove, peach side up. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream. Serves 6.
Editor’s note: I’ll add a handful of pecans to the peaches.
Pork fillet with peach filling
1 cup of peeled and sliced ââpeaches
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 tablespoons of chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon of orange jam
In a bowl, mix the peaches, almonds, breadcrumbs, carrots, onions and ginger roots; put aside. Make a 3/4 lengthwise cut through the pork tenderloin; open and flatten to 1/4 inch thick. Spread the peach mixture on the pork tenderloin. Roll up from the long side, fold in the ends and fix with toothpicks. Place a flat roasting pan on wire rack I and brush lightly with oil; Bake without the lid for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees or until the meat thermometer shows 155 degrees. Brush the meat with orange jam. Bake for another 5 – 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Makes 2-3 servings.