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Farmers market report: Peaches and nectarines are in season

White peaches.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

What’s in season: There’s not too much of a difference between peaches and nectarines, aside from the outer texture of the fruit – fuzzy versus smooth – as the two are so closely related. Fully-ripened, all this fruit has a rich perfume and deep coloring and will give slightly under pressure. A number of varieties of each are showing up at stands now, including large Elberta peaches and flat Saturn (also called Doughnut) peaches, along with sweet Arctic Rose nectarines. Depending on the variety of the fruit and the location of the farm, peach and nectarine season can last into early fall.

What to cook: Peaches and nectarines are an easy choice when it comes to classic summer desserts, such as fruit pies and cobblers. Turn a bag of ripe fruit into a batch of preserves or jam, or freeze in an ice cream flavored with a touch of cinnamon or almond extract. The fruit also works well on the grill or sliced and added to salads or pureed as part of a cold soup.

What’s on the horizon: Melons and grapes are beginning to show up at various stands.

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PEACH AND BLACKBERRY CRISP

Total time: 1 hour and 10 minutes | Serves 8

Note: You can substitute nectarines for the peaches and skip the peeling.

3 1/2 to 4 pounds peaches

1 pint blackberries ( 1/2 pound)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel the peaches: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a shallow X in the bottom of each peach, and blanch it quickly in the boiling water until you see the peel start to lift away from the peach. The blanching time required will vary depending on the ripeness of the peach. Transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, and peel away the skin with your fingers. If the peel proves difficult to remove, simply return the peach to the boiling water and try again. If after 5 minutes of blanching, the peaches are still not peeling easily, use a small paring knife to scrape away the skin.

3. Pit the peach by cutting it in half, following the cleft that runs down one side. Twist and the flesh will separate. Discard the pit and cut the peach into bite-size pieces. You should have about 7 to 8 cups of peeled, pitted, cut-up peaches.

4. Place the peaches in a bowl with the blackberries, cinnamon, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and the lemon juice and stir gently to combine. Set aside while you make the topping.

5. In a food processor, briefly pulse together the sugar, salt and remaining 1 cup of flour just to combine. Distribute the chunks of butter over the top and pulse just until the mixture resembles wet, clumpy sand.

6. Dump the peach mixture into a 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish and give it a good shake to make sure it’s evenly distributed. Spoon the crumbly mixture over the top, distributing it evenly. Bake until the top is crusty and brown and the peaches are soft, about 45 minutes.

Each serving: 316 calories; 4 grams protein; 51 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 12 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 31 mg. cholesterol; 149 mg. sodium.

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