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Ingredient Tue Aug 05 2008

Peaches

peachsmall.jpgThere is nothing better than tucking into a good peach -- sweet and juicy with intoxicating floral and almost musky overtones. But there are few things sadder in summer than biting into a poor excuse for a peach.

So what should you be looking for in a peach?

First, a primer. Yellow peaches are the most common but they're not the only peach on the scene. White peaches are low acid, which means they have a more straight-forward sweetness and lack the background tartness of a yellow peach. While sweeter can be better, you might be surprised how much a little tang accounts for what we think of as a deep, rich peach flavor. As for nectarines, they're nothing more than fuzzless peaches, loveable genetic freaks.

At the markets, you're likely to run into different peach varieties sharing space on the same tables. How do you decide?

Your best bet is to ask for a taste. You could ask the people selling the fruit for a recommendation, but who's to say their tastes match yours? And, yes, you could ask for a description of each variety, but that's a tall order. There are only so many ways to describe a peach and words are bound to fall short.

When it comes time to pick your basket, don't get too handsy. You might be going home with this fruit, but you want it to respect you in the morning. Instead of poking and squeezing, use your eyes. A red blush doesn't necessarily indicate ripeness, but you do want a background of deep yellow or orange, with no trace of green. The peaches should have a definite aroma, so use your nose, too -- but at a respectable distance. Touching your nose to the peach won't tell you anything about the peach; it will only tell the person on the other side of the table that you have distorted boundaries.

Once you're home, set the peaches on the counter out of direct sunlight to soften up to your liking. If the peaches are already soft or if you want to buy yourself a bit of time, stash them in the refrigerator.

August heralds the height of peach season at the farmers markets. Enjoy them while you can. The season is short and apples are coming on fast.

 
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Bob Skilnik / August 7, 2008 2:56 PM

I love peaches, but when I was a kid, the skins would make me break out in hives. I could eat canned peaches all day and never have a reaction, but the moment I bit into a fresh and juicy Michigan peach, I began to itch.

I turned 12 or so and the allergy went away, but it didn't matter; I was going to eat them hell or high water...and get a day off from school to boot.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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