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Did you know that North Carolina growers produce as many as 70 different varieties, each with its own unique flavor? Although the Sandhills region is known for peach production, consumers can find growers all across the state. Peaches are a warm weather favorite and you will find they taste best June-August in parts of the South.
Not only do peaches taste amazing but are a nutritional powerhouse as well. In one medium peach you will see only 60 calories and more than 20 different macro and micronutrients, including fiber, vitamins, A, C, E, potassium and zinc. And of course, they are naturally free of fat, sodium, cholesterol, gluten and trans fats!!
Choose ’em and use ’em
While there are hundreds of varieties of peaches, they are classified into two categories: freestone, with a loose, easily removed pit, or clingstone in which the pit is harder to remove. Freestone peaches are usually sold fresh while the clingstones are reserved for canning, freezing and preserving. Choosing peaches at the local grocery can be tricky, they are highly perishable and bruise very easily.
Select peaches that have a yellow or creamy color, and that are fragrant, unblemished and not too hard. When gently squeezed, a good peach should yield to pressure. The red blush on peaches is not an indicator of ripeness.
If you get your peaches too hard, storing them in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days will ripen them. However, if they still have a greenish color they were picked before they matured and will never ripen.
Once ripe, peaches can be stored in the refrigerator for a three to five days. However, it’s
best not to buy more peaches than you plan to use right away. Rinse peaches in cold water just before using.
To prevent browning after peeling, toss peaches lightly in lemon juice if you plan to serve them later.
The fuss on the fuzz!
Have you noticed that peaches aren’t as fuzzy as they used to be? In response to consumer
desire for “fuzz-less” peaches, most commercially grown peaches are mechanically brushed once they are picked. Fresh local peaches will be fuzzier than those purchased in supermarkets.
It’s okay to use canned
Canned peaches are comparable in nutrition to their fresh and frozen counterparts. They retain vitamins A and C throughout their canned life. Canned peaches can be substituted
for fresh peaches in recipes such as pies, crisps and cobblers. Choose canned peaches
that are in water or juice versus syrup because they will be much lower in calories and have less sugar.
Peaches are most often used in sweet deserts, but can hold the title role in a variety of recipes, even some savory ones!
Peachy Pork Tenderloin
1 pound pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic
½ cup cilantro
1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3 small peaches, quartered and pits removed
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon pepper (I like a little more)
In a food processor combine garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, black pepper and pulse until the marinade is well blended but still has some texture.
Place pork tenderloin in a large Ziploc bag. Pour the marinade over pork tenderloin and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or longer.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use non-stick spray to line a medium sized baking dish.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Once marinated, slightly wipe off the marinade and sear the pork tenderloin on all sides until lightly brown. Also cooking the peaches until brown.
Transfer the pork to a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with foil.
Add balsamic vinegar to a pan with peaches and stir for 2-3 minutes. Remove the peaches and set aside. Once peaches are set aside, whisk in the chicken broth, and soy sauce and slightly increase the heat. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Remove the sauce from the heat, add salt to taste, and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Thinly slice the pork and serve with the peaches and sauce. Serves 4-6.
Easy Wheat Hand Pies with Peaches
1 (9-inch) frozen whole-wheat piecrust, thawed
¾ cup chopped ripe peaches
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shape piecrust into a ball, divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 4 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Cover the circles with a damp cloth while working to prevent drying out.
Stir together peaches, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Spoon about 1 tablespoon peach mixture onto each dough circle, leaving about ¼ inch border.
Moisten dough edges with water, fold over into half-moons. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal, cut slits in top of pies and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, about 14 minutes. Remove and cool 10 minutes before serving.
Each hand pie contains; Calories 147, Fat 9g., Protein 2g., Carbohydrate 15g., Fiber 2g., and Sodium 7g.
Peach Pie Squares
For the Crust and Topping
1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, cut into cubes
For the peach filling
¼ cup white whole wheat flour
1 large egg
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup local honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 large or 6 small peaches, pitted and chopped into ½ peaches, it is okay to leave the peeling on this time
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line with a piece of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.
To make the crust, place the white whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, or food processor, or even use a hand blender. Mix to combine. Add butter cubes and mix or blend on low until the butter pieces are evenly distributed. The mixture will look crumbly but will stick together when pressed.
Reserve 1 cup of the crust mixture for the topping and press the rest into the bottom of the prepared dish for the crust. Bake 14-15 minutes.
For the peach filling, place the ¼ cup white whole wheat flour, egg, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Gently fold in the chopped peaches. Pour the mixture over the bottom crust in the pan.
Sprinkle on the reserved topping.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browning. Cutting the squares will work best if you cool the pan and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.
Yields 9 squares, each square contains; Calories 364, Fat 16g., Protein 6g., Carbohydrate 52g., Fiber 4g., and Sodium 160g.