The juicy sweetness of fresh peaches is one of the real pleasures of summer. Eat them sliced with cream and sugar or combined with other fruits. Use them in salads and desserts. You'll appreciate their delicate flavor - impossible to recreate in the canned variety. (SECTION) ince peaches by the bushel or half bushel are often a good buy at roadside stands or farmers' markets, you may also want to put some by for winter use. Freezing is an excellent way to do this, because processing is quick and both the flavor and texture of the fruit are surprisingly well preserved. Or try making a delighful but easy jam from fresh peaches, blueberries and spices.
When buying fresh peaches, select firm fruit, free from blemishes or soft spots. Look for a whitish or creamy yellow undercolor, especially at the stem end. The characteristic red blush varies with the type of peach and is not a reliable sign of ripeness. Stay away from green-tinged fruit. This color usually indicates that the peaches were immature when picked and will not ripen well. Mature but firm peaches should be stored in the refrigerator unwashed and will keep for up to a week. If you buy very ripe, soft fruit (sometimes sold as "seconds"), it must be used within a day or two.
With some varieties of peaches, the skin is easily peeled off. If the peaches you select are hard to peel, blanch them in boiling water for about a minute and then plunge into cold water. The skin will loosen readily.
When preparing the recipes that follow, you will need 2 1/2 or 3 medium peaches to yield 2 cups of sliced fruit. PEACH KUCHEN (9 servings) CRUST: 1 1/4 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter or margarine 2 tablespoons sour cream TOPPING: 4 cup sliced peaches 1/4 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sour cream 3 egg yolks, beaten 1 cup sugar
For crust, mix flour and salt, cut in butter, then stir in sour cream. Press mixture into a 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set on a wire rack to cool slightly. Spread peaches on top of crust. Then mix all other topping ingredients together and pour over peaches, spreading evenly, Return to 375-degree oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until topping appears firm and no longer looks wet. Cool on a wire rack. Then refrigerate and serve cold. OLD FASHIONED SHORTCAKE (9 servings) 3 cups sifted flour 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup sugar 3/4 cup shortening 2 eggs, beaten 2/3 cup milk (approximate) 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine 4 cups sliced fresh peaches Sweetened whipping cream
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening. Add eggs and enough milk to moisten the dry ingredients and make a soft dough. Divide the dough and press half into a greased, 9-inch-square pan. Brush the dough with melted butter or margarine. Then roll out the remaining dough and carefully place it on top of the first dough layer. (If dough is too sticky to roll out, add 1 or 2 tablespoons additional flour). Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until edges of crust are beginning to brown. Remove from oven and invert pan on rack to remove crust. Allow to cool thoroughly. Cut crust into serving size pieces. Split each piece, fill with peaches, and spoon additional peaches on top. Serve with whipped cream. DIRECTIONS FOR FREEZING
The taste and texture of fresh peaches are remarkably well preserved by freezing. To prevent discoloration, peaches should be frozen in a sugar syrup to which ascorbic acid has been added.
Select firm ripe peaches for freezing. Remove skins and cut in slices. For syrup use: 4 cups water 2 1/2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons ascorbic acid
Heat water with sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat, cool and add ascorbic acid. Chill syrup in refrigerator before using.
You can freeze about 3/4 cup of sliced peaches in a 1-pint plastic container. For every 3/4 cup of peaches, you will need about 3/4 cup of sugar syrup.
Pour 1/2 cup of syrup into plastic container. Add peaches to within 3/4 inch of the top. Pour in more syrup to cover peaches, but leave about 1/2 inch of head space at the top as the syrup will expand when frozen. PEACH-BANANA AMBROSIA (6 to 8 servings) 4 cups sliced fresh peaches 2 cups cliced bananas 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 cup shredded coconut
Combine all ingredients except coconut and chill for at least a half hour. Just before serving, add coconut. This mixture may be served either as a side dish or as a light dessert.