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Avoid peach panic: Make the best of leftover fruit

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By The Staff

Don’t worry. We’ve all done it. Those peaches come into season and when we drive by produce stands, we are drawn in by their voluptuous looks.

Those glorious globes of red-yellow goodness seem to call to us as we sit at the light near Springs Farm in Fort Mill. When we walk by South Carolina peaches in the grocery store, their peachy scent drifts by our noses, sending us that “buy me” message.Local peaches seem to be especially capable of doing this because they are picked right when they are their ripest for their short trip to local grocery stores.And so we buy. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, Americans consume an average of 4.6 pounds of fresh peaches per person per year. Processed peaches are consumed on an average of 3 pounds per person. So chances are, most of us have some fresh peaches on our counters right now.After we make the annual batches of cobbler, crisp, pie and ice cream, what else is there to do?Certainly a very large number of these juicy fruits will be eaten leaning over the kitchen sink, but there will always be one or two that are in danger of rotting as we near the end of our cravings.To survive a peach-a-lanche, the first thing you need to do is stay calm. And remember one basic piece of equipment you have that helps you survive any food over-age. That’s right. Your trusty freezer. You don’t need to go into any big production, prepping and freezing pounds and pounds of fruit.If you have one or two very ripe peaches, just peel them, cut them into chunks, and sprinkle them with a little Fruit Fresh (You can find it in the spice section of the grocery store. It’s a little white canister of powder). Drop the peaches into a zip-top bag, close it up and pop it into the fridge. You can use those later for smoothies, to top ice cream or any kind of baked fruit item.If you’d like the pieces to be frozen separately so that you can just pull out a few at a time, layer them on a cookie sheet, freeze them that way first, and then pull them off and put them in bags.But let’s say you just want to eat more peaches now, and you are looking for other ideas. Well, why not give them a shot in a savory dish? Try grilling them and pairing them with grilled meats that way. Hey, we grill pineapple slices, why not peach halves?If you really want to branch out, try stuffing the grilled halves with feta cheese and couscous. Use some basil, balsamic vinegar and chives to kick up the flavors a bit. There is a recipe for Savory Stuffed Peaches with Feta Couscous on the Whole Foods Market Web site (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/breakfast-brunch/stuffedpeaches....).You could also try tossing some peach halves in with your roasted summer veggies, such as zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. Roast them all in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes and then toss with pasta. Mix up a dressing with orange juice, honey mustard, balsamic vinegar and some herbs and you’ve got a nice summer bowl of goodness.Peaches are incredibly versatile. It just takes a little bit of thinking outside the usual box of sugary desserts.As the old adage goes: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And when you’re buried in a mound of very ripe peaches, what better time to start playing with them?

Fresh Peach SalsaIngredients2 cups fresh, chopped peaches1/8 cup chopped sweet onion2 tablespoons fresh lime juice2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro1 teaspoon sugar

Directions– Mix all ingredients together in bowl, cover and chill for at least one hour. Use on grilled meats and fish.

– Recipe courtesy of No Food Left Behind

Peach LemonadeIngredients2 peaches, peeled and chopped1 cup granulated sugar4 cups water3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juiceMint sprigs and peach slices for garnish

Directions– Combine peaches, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.– Strain peachy sugar mixture through a colander or sieve, pressing the peaches to extract as much juice as possible. Stir in the lemon juice.

– From http://www.recipezaar.com