Prime Your Menu with Pennsylvania Peaches

With the abundance of nearby peach producers, buying local from Produce Express is extremely advantageous, offering tree-ripe (allowed to ripen on the tree) peaches at their optimum flavor with fewer bruises and blemishes due to shorter traveling distances. As peach season reaches its prime, and with the highest quality peaches available right in our backyard, make sure you’re planning ahead to thoughtfully incorporate and market this versatile and flavorful fruit on your menu.

The Basics

Peaches can be classified as either freestone, separating easily from the pit, or clingstone, requiring the flesh to be cut away from the pit. Looks can’t help you tell the difference between the peaches, but clingstone ripen first, so it’s more likely you will see clingstone early July and freestone in mid-July, late-August. Freestone varieties make for quicker prep and are best used in applications where presentation is essential. To easily remove the pit from a freestone peach, cut around the center seam with a knife then gently twist the halves in opposite directions to separate. Once picked, the fruit does not ripen any further, but will soften when stored at room temperature. To prolong shelf life, ripe peaches should be refrigerated only briefly and brought to room temperature before serving raw.

Local Produce – PA Preferred
Fresh Summer Peaches
Item# 096364, 1 Crate
• Can be used across the menu during any daypart.
• Can be prepared in many ways such as roasted or grilled, creating more intrigue for customers.

Prep Techniques

With their natural sweetness, ripe peaches don’t require a lot of fuss. Over-spicing or seasoning can detract from their inherent flavor, and the best way to prepare them may simply be a no-hassle method. Roasting, grilling, or broiling lightly oiled peach halves until just lightly charred and softened is a minimal effort technique that caramelizes the natural sugars and intensifies sweetness by removing excess moisture, leaving behind a concentrated base to utilize. Before cooking, try brushing with a mixture of Cointreau®, agave or maple syrup, and brown sugar or coconut sugar. Serve topped with yogurt or ice cream sprinkled with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. For a savory option, toss peach halves with oil and fresh thyme leaves, broil, top with thin slices of Gorgonzola cheese and chopped fresh mint, wrap with thinly sliced prosciutto, and serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of black pepper. Grilled peaches also add sweet and smoky hints when mixed with vegetables. Consider serving grilled peaches with haricot vert or topping a shaved asparagus salad with grilled peaches, burrata, basil, and balsamic.

Poaching peaches in a two-to-one ratio of water to sugar or one-to-one ratio of white or red wine to water just until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife can enhance fruit that is slightly under-ripe or less flavorful. Add a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary and a cinnamon stick, or a couple of star anise, cinnamon sticks, and a few whole cloves to the cooking liquid to infuse flavor. Cool poached peaches in the poaching liquid, peel, halve, and pit, then refrigerate in the poaching liquid. Serve with a red wine granita and raspberry coulis.

If preparing pies, jams, cobblers, or ice cream, it is preferable to peel peaches beforehand. To easily do so, score a tiny cross at the base of each peach, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds or so until the skin begins to separate from the fruit at the score, and then transfer directly into an ice bath.

Canning is an age-old process to consider for preserving an overabundant supply of peaches at their peak. It’s literally a way to capture July in a jar, and bring the fresh, bright, just-picked flavor of summer peaches to your menu throughout the year. Sous vide is an excellent and easy method to use for canning. Generally speaking, it’s best to choose a sweet brine for fruits and make sure you peel or chop away any skin, stems or other non-edible parts of the fruit before you begin the canning process. Once enclosed in jars, submerge the peaches in your sous vide machine for about two and a half hours, let them rest overnight at room temperature and then store them in a cool place for up to six months.

Visibly displaying the jarred peaches on shelves will portray the message of a scratch kitchen establishment, showing customers the care you put into your ingredients, while providing a farm-to-table ambiance.

RECIPE: Grilled Fresh Peaches, Baby Arugula, Pickled Red Onion & Gorgonzola Crostini

Peach Possibilities

The beauty of this summer gem is that it can find its way into any course. Easily incorporate the fruit into your menu by simply subbing into a fruit salsa, dicing and tossing into a salad, or slicing and serving drizzled with balsamic glaze on a cheese plate. When developing seasonal menu offerings highlighting the peach, consider peach crêpes with mascarpone for breakfast, peach-berry compote for a breakfast accompaniment, chilled stone fruit gazpacho for brunch, pulled pork sandwiches with peach-barbeque sauce for lunch, or amaretto-spiked peach clafouti for dessert. You can also take advantage of the craft cocktail craze by adding a Pennsylvania peach bellini to your drink menu, merchandising with the locality of the ingredients.

Though peaches can be utilized in many dishes, nowhere is the fruit more appreciated than on the dessert plate, especially during the summer months as consumers seek out lighter options. In addition to classics such as Peach Melba, peach cobbler, and peach pie, trendy and elevated preparations with bold flavor combinations are another avenue to explore. Peaches are complemented well by flavors of almonds, butter, bourbon, chile peppers, ginger, lavender, lemon, mint, pistachios, port, champagne, vanilla, raspberries, cinnamon, cardamom, and crème fraîche. Increase intrigue by pairing peaches with any of these flavors and presenting it creatively such as a peach trifle in a Mason jar that showcases enticing layers of fresh peaches.

A spicy-sweet combo works well with peaches – add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a little grated fresh ginger to biscuits for peach shortcake, or try infusing house-made peach ice cream with fresh chile peppers. A layered parfait of vanilla-basil poached peaches, sweetened mascarpone, passion fruit sauce, and almond brittle highlights peaches in a refreshing dessert with complementary flavors and varied texture. However simple or elaborate you choose to go, a portion of peaches after a summer meal assures that all’s well that ends well.