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Kitchen hack: How to peel a peach

Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter shows how easy it is to peel a peach.

Ever run across a recipe that calls for peeling peaches before adding to the dish? Short of using a vegetable peeler, the skin can be almost impossible to remove. It’s frustrating.

So what’s the big deal with peach skins? Well, because peach skins tend to be a little tough and can slip free to muddle some dishes, recipes sometimes call for peeling the fruit before use.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to do the job -- and the method works for peeling many fruits and vegetables. Simply mark an “x” on the bottom of the fruit with a sharp knife, dunk it in boiling water to loosen the skin (about 30 seconds for a ripe peach, slightly longer if the peach is somewhat firm), then quickly chill the fruit in an ice bath to bring the temperature back down.

Voila. The skin will slip off easily. No fuss.

Use it in the peach gelato recipe below. It’s one of our 11 favorite peach recipes, including cocktails, ice cream, bread pudding, popsicles and more -- so you can put this summer staple to good use.

PEACH GELATO

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Total time: 20 minutes, plus 2 1/2 hours freezing time | Serves 6 to 8

Note: From Russ Parsons, who writes, “I learned this technique, which skips the ice-cream machine, from Sicilian chef Ciccio Sultano -- singled out by Gambero Rosso as one of Italy’s great young chefs -- when he cooked at Valentino last year as part of its 30th-anniversary celebration. It couldn’t be easier, but the fresh peach flavor is astonishing. The texture should be somewhere between soft-serve ice cream and dense, chewy traditional gelato. Depending on the sweetness of your peaches, you may want to add more sugar.”

3 pounds peaches, peeled and pitted

1/4 cup sugar, or more, to taste

1/2 cup mascarpone, creme fraiche or yogurt

1. Cut the peaches into very small pieces. The smaller you cut them, the faster they will freeze and the finer the final texture will be. Arrange the peach pieces in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and freeze solid, about 2 hours.

2. Put the frozen peach pieces in a food processor with the sugar and grind briefly. Add the mascarpone and pulse until the mixture is smooth.

3. Empty the food processor into a small container and freeze again, 20 to 30 minutes, before serving. If the ice cream freezes solid, simply process it briefly again before serving.

Each of 8 servings (using mascarpone): 143 calories; 2 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 18 mg. cholesterol; 8 mg. sodium.


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