Bumper Crop: Peaches

Summer's bounty: local peaches. (Adrian Higgins -- The Washington Post)

The summer I turned 23, I was living in San Francisco. It was years before I became a full-time food writer. But even then, cooking and eating were my main extracurricular activities. In July, a few friends and I set out to go peach picking in the Berkeley hills.

It was as much a social outing as an exercise in foraging. We chatted as we walked down lane after lane of trees, mindlessly choosing softball-size, fuzzy fruits for our baskets. Within an hour, we had 98 pounds of peaches. Very ripe peaches that needed to be eaten within about a week.

Until that summer, the words "too many peaches" had seemed like a contradiction in terms. My roommate and I ate one with every meal. We made peach salsa, peach chutney and peach upside down cake. Then we ran out of ideas.

The summer's bounty can be a blessing and a curse. You wait all year for tomatoes, peaches, berries, corn and basil. Then, you don't know quite what to do with them all. And so we launch our new end-of-summer blog series: Bumper Crop. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll point you to inspired recipes from our archives and beyond. Enjoy.


Ginger Peach Julep. (Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

Peach puree tastes good in almost anything. Add a little to sparkling wine for a classic bellini or get more creative. Try this Ginger Peach Julep, a cocktail that our spirits columnist Jason Wilson believes should have won first place at the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Or check out this Mango-Peach Sangria that New Orleans chef John Besh gave to Food & Wine.

My go-to summer salad is soft, buttery mache lettuce tossed with peach chunks, fresh goat cheese, candied pecans in a tart raspberry vinaigrette. It's great on its own or alongside a pork loin or grilled chicken. Restaurant Nora's Peach, Brie and Almond salad is based on a similar idea: a mix of sweet, crunch and creaminess. For something brighter, try this Indian-inspired Kachoomber. It doesn't use up that many peaches -- it also includes apples, nectarines and cucumbers -- but it's a fine salad for your repertoire. Pair it with kebabs or curries.

Main Courses:
I love fruit in savory dishes. So it was fun to scan our archives for peachy dinners. Go the classic route with these
Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops with Peaches. Or for something lighter, I like Washingtonian Steve Himelfarb's Grilled Crusted Salmon with Mango-White Peach salsa or this sweet and salty Grilled Shrimp Sate with Peaches and Bok Choy from Epicurious.

Adventurous eaters, try this Peach Gnocchi from the ever-creative Heidi Swanson of 101Cookbooks. (And if you do, let me know if it's good. I may try it myself this weekend.)

If you really have a lot of peaches, condiments are brilliant plan. They go with almost anything -- on a bruschetta or roasted meats -- and they can be stored. I'm a huge fan of pickled anything, so I like our recipe for Peach Pickles. This Peach and Raisin Chutney is versatile enough to go with pork chops, grilled chicken or curries.


Rose Levy Beranbaum's favorite peach pie. (Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

Well, this is easy. You can make crumbles, grunts, slumps and bettys or Rose Levy Beranbaum's Perfect Peach Pie. But then you knew that.

So here are some more creative ideas.

I love this simple recipe for Grilled Peaches with Basil Mascarpone; if, like me, you don't have a grill, you can always roast the peaches under the broiler. More sophisticated are these
Sugar Cookie Peach Sorbet Sandwiches. The sorbet is not overly sweet and has a hint of thyme. If it's too hot to bake, serve the sorbet on its own with a store-bought shortbread or tuile.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  August 17, 2009; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Jane Black, bumper crop, peaches Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Swirling, Sipping, and Tweeting in Texas
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I'd love to access the sugar cookie peach sorbet sandwich. The hint of thyme really gets me intrigued. However the link rakes me to a page that shows recent votes by Alan Mollohan.

Please... please! correct. I have a bushel of white peaches to go through (I have already gone through 2 bushel of yellow peaches) - and love all the peach ideas!

thank you

Posted by: rowandk | August 18, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I am taking advantage of our local peaches with an easy fruit starter of lightly-poached peaches with blueberries and greek yogurt drizzled with a little local honey.
The recipe is on my blog at http://thomasshepherdinn.blogspot.com/2009/07/poached-peach-starter-recipe.html.

Posted by: muirford | August 18, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Sylvie, the link works!

Posted by: joeyonan | August 19, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

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