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 Thursday, June 21st, 2018

August 7, 2010

August is Just Peachy

Anyone who has bitten into a ripe peach on a warm summer day knows the sweet, tangy, juicy perfection of peaches! They taste like nothing else

When things are “peachy”, that means everything’s really great doesn’t it? Things are definitely peachy in August, because it’s National Peach Month.

There are two basic kinds of peaches: clingstone and freestone. All are descendents of the wild peaches of ancient China, where they are a symbol of longevity. And, did you know they are related to the rose family? Just as you might guess, they get their names from the way the peach clings to the stone, or pit. Freestone peaches are the type found in your local market, to be eaten fresh, while the juicy clingstones are used for canning, jellies and jams…and both varieties are grown right here in California.

When you’re picking peaches, look for fruit that is firm but gives slightly to a little pressure. A ripe peach should have a sweet-scented aroma that tempts you to bite into it. Take the time to look for fruit without marks or bruises, and purchase only what you’re planning on using, because fresh peaches last only a few days.

If the peaches are a bit under-ripe, place them in a paper bag, slightly open or with a few air holes. Add an apple to help the peaches ripen (it’s the ethylene gas!), and set the bag in a corner of your kitchen away from sunlight. They’ll ripen up pretty quickly.

Now that you have some perfectly peachy peaches, enjoy them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Peaches for Breakfast

Oven-baked French toast stuffed with “peaches and cream” is an easy crowd pleaser, and you can prepare it the night before a brunch get-together. Grease a baking dish and line the bottom with slices of brioche, egg bread or even sweet Hawaiian bread. On top of the bread, layer peach slices and cubes of cream cheese, then top with more bread. Beat together 4 whole eggs, one and a half cups of whole milk, a few tablespoons of maple syrup, along with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour this over the layers, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, bake covered with foil at 350ºF for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more, or until golden brown. Slices of peach-stuffed French toast are delicious served with hot syrup or a dusting of powdered sugar.

Peaches for Lunch

Grilled peaches are luscious as a side dish for seafood or grilled meats. But, how about adding grilled peaches to a salad or a sandwich? Add grilled peaches to a salad of baby arugula leaves, crumbled blue cheese, candied pecans and grilled chicken and toss with a tangy raspberry vinaigrette. Or, spread toasted multi-grain bread with softened goat cheese, and layer with slices of grilled peaches and crispy bacon.

Peaches for Dinner

Peach chutney adds zest to grilled pork or seafood (try swordfish or sea bass) and marinades and glazes that incorporate peaches are just delicious off the barbecue.

Try my peach marinade by blending a half cup of peach jam, a third of a cup of fresh lime juice, one teaspoon lime zest, three crushed garlic cloves, three tablespoons soy sauce and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer the mixture in a saucepan until syrupy, then cool and use as a marinade or a glaze for chicken, duck or game hens.

Peaches for Dessert

A flawless, ripe peach lends itself to one of the simplest, but most perfect dishes: Peaches and Cream. Pull the peach away from its stone, slice into slivers and toss the slices with a splash of peach liqueur or Grand Marnier. Layer the macerated peach slices in a parfait or martini glass with freshly whipped heavy cream or crème fraiche. The perfect, classic way to serve peaches!

I hope you’ll savor these golden treasures while they’re at their best. Enjoy a bushel of peaches this month, from my kitchen to yours.

Chef Jamie Gwen’s previous tips by date:
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