Colorado Peach season is here. What a great snack or dessert. With their juicy inside flesh, which ranges in color from white to bright yellow, and their sweet flavor, it is not surprising that peaches are the third most popular fruit grown in the United States, right behind apples and oranges. Whether fresh, frozen, dried or canned, they can be used in a variety of ways – eaten on their own as a snack, or added to salads, desserts, cereals, and cooked dishes. Peaches are a good source of vitamin C. They are low in calories and sodium. Eating peaches with the skin on increases the amount of fiber you get.
When you buy local peaches in season, you’ll find they are softer, sweeter tasting, and sweeter smelling than you’ll find in the grocery store during other seasons. Peaches don’t get any sweeter after they have been harvested, but they will become softer and juicier as they mature.
Shopping Tips: When buying peaches, look for skins that show a background color of yellow or warm cream – the amount of pink or red “blush” on their cheeks depends on the variety, and is not a good sign of ripeness. Green skins, however, mean that the peach was picked too soon and will not be sweet. Once peaches are picked, their sweetness will not increase, so choose fruits that smell like a peach. Look for plump, medium to large-sized peaches with unwrinkled skins. Avoid the rock-hard fruits and choose those that yield slightly to pressure along the seam, even if they may otherwise be fairly firm. Peaches will soften if kept at room temperature for a few days.
Storage: If you bring home firm peaches, leave them at room temperature for a few days to soften; place them in a paper bag to speed up the process If peaches are ripe and you will not eat them within a day, store them in the refrigerator. They should keep for three to five days.
Serving Suggestions: Try adding peach slices to cold cereal, or make a parfait by layering peaches, low-fat yogurt and crunchy cereal in a tall glass. Add chopped fresh, frozen, or canned peaches to waffle batter, or use them as a topping for waffles or pancakes. Arrange thin, peeled peach slices on hot toast that has been spread with a little cream cheese; dust with cinnamon and serve immediately.
Here’s a recipe for a tasty Peach Slush. Colorado Peach Slush. 1 cup sliced peaches. One-half cup milk. Four ice cubes. 1 cup yogurt or ice cream. Whirl ingredients in a blender and serve for breakfast or dessert. Makes six servings.
For more information contact Mary Ellen Fleming at 852-7381 or visit the CSU Extension Office for the San Luis Valley Area at 1899 E. Hwy 160 in Monte Vista. Please feel free to visit our website at: http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu for information about services provided.