Just recently on a plantation tour in South Carolina, I learned that the state of South Carolina is the second largest grower of peaches, next to California. That surprised me as I always think of the state of Georgia when I think of peaches.
This bit of information heightened my interest in growing peaches. So I visited Clemson University Extension website, only to find an interesting circa 1973 video entitled “Peaches Fresh for You.” The 14-minute video gives you a bit of history about growing and harvesting peaches. If you would like to check it out, visit http://www.clemson.edu/extension/peach/video_everything_about_peaches/peaches_fresh_for_you_1973.html
The Penn State Extension “Pennsylvania Produce” Guide lists two general types of peaches: freestone (flesh readily separates from the pit) and clingstone (flesh clings tightly to the pit). Freestones are usually preferred for eating fresh or for freezing, while clingstones are used primarily for canning, although they are sometimes sold fresh.
Good quality peaches will be fairly large, firm to slightly soft and have a yellowish or creamy background. Some of us might pick only those peaches with a large red blush area. A red blush, however, may be present on some peach varieties to differing degrees, but this is not a true sign of quality. An extremely ripe peach that is at room temperature will also have a sweet peach smell.
Avoid peaches that are extremely small, hard, soft or that have wrinkled skin at the stem end. Peaches that have a green background were picked immature and will not ripen well.
Once ripe, a peach will keep in the refrigerator up to one week. To ripen, store peaches in a closed paper bag. It should take about one to three days. Do not store unripe peaches in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag or in direct sunlight.
Peaches, like most fruit, give us fiber, vitamins and minerals for just little calories. One medium peach has 70 calories and is more filling than two pieces of candy. Enjoy peaches just by themselves or in this cooked dessert.
32 oz. can peaches*
1 Tbsp. margarine
1 cup skim milk
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
* Or to use fresh peaches, dip peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins loosen. Dip quickly in cold water and slip of skins. Cut in half, remove pits and slice. Add 1 cup of apple juice or water for liquid.
Pour peaches and syrup into 2 quart pan. Add margarine. Bring to a boil. Make dumplings by mixing flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl with milk. Drop large spoonfuls of batter into peach mixture. Cover and cook on medium for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy!