Peaches are still around


Ralph Daily, Wikimedia Commons

What could be better than peach ice cream, with a piece of cake, fresh peach slices and whipped cream?

Peaches have been on my mind a lot recently, as my sister has several varieties of peach trees on her farm. She has been sharing the last of the O’Henry peaches with my mom and me.


I must admit, despite having a lot of recipes, and some to share today with you, my favorite way to eat a fresh, tree-ripened peach is to bite right into it. My mom likes them peeled, and after dinner we enjoy a dish of sliced peaches sprinkled with just a touch of sugar for extra sweetness.


I had some yellow peaches from a grocery store, so decided to use those up. What a difference between the two types; the store-bought ones were so hard they were crunchy like an apple. Very little, if any, flavor, no juice, pale color and definitely not sweet. And despite the popular advice that if you just give them some time to “ripen” at room temperature on the counter (or in a paper bag with an apple or a banana), they will be just fine, let me say they were not fine. Not even close.


I may get arguments and keep in mind this is just my opinion, but to me, peaches only ripen while still on the tree. Oh, they will soften, but I call that decomposing. Maybe I just have bad luck and others can attest to a different outcome; just speaking for myself.


If you have access to some delicious fresh peaches, here are some recipes you might find worthy of trying.


Georgia peach ice cream


You can make this ice cream a little sweeter by adding up to a 1/2 cup more sugar, if you wish.


2 1/2 pounds fresh ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped


1/2 cup sugar


1 pint half-and-half


1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk


1 can (12-oz.) evaporated milk


1 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups whole milk, or as needed


1. Puree peaches with the sugar and half-and-half in batches in a blender or food processor.


2. In a gallon ice cream freezer container, mix together the peach mixture, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla. Pour in enough whole milk to fill the container to the fill line, about 2 cups.


3. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for freezing the ice cream.


Cat’s rustic peach pie


4 cups fresh, peeled, sliced peaches


1/2 cup granulated white sugar


1/2 cup dark brown sugar


1/8 teaspoon salt


1/8 teaspoon nutmeg


1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


4 tablespoons cornstarch


Pastry for a 2-crust 9-inch pie


Raw sugar


Milk


1. In a large bowl, mix together the peaches, sugars, salt, spices and cornstarch. Stir lightly until peaches release juice.


2. Transfer peach mixture to a large saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat, until the mixture turns translucent and thickens; cool to room temperature.


3. Preheat oven to 450. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out half of the pie crust dough into a circle. Using half the peach filling, place in center of dough circle and fold in the edges toward the center. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. There should be room for 2 pies. Repeat process with remaining pastry dough and filling.


4. Brush crusts with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar crystals. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400 and continue baking for about 20 minutes. If necessary, place a sheet of foil loosely over the pies to prevent overbrowning. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is done. While still on the parchment paper, remove to a wire rack and cool.


Peachy crumb bars


For the crust:


1 cup sugar


3 cups flour


1 teaspoon baking powder


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


1 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into cubes


1 large egg, lightly beaten


For the peach layer:


1/2 cup sugar


1 tablespoon cornstarch


1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


5 large ripe peaches, peeled and diced


1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


For the icing (optional):


1 cup confectioners’ sugar


1/4 teaspoon almond extract


1 tablespoon milk (more or less for desired consistency)


1. Preheat oven to 350 if using a glass pan; 375 if using a metal pan. Lightly grease or spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and set aside.