Smarty Peaches

The science in picking the sweetest fruit

20150731_Peachorama_630The start of the sweetest time of the year for peaches usually hits around the beginning of August. While you can get some sweet, juicy fruit from farmers markets, and favorite grocery stores, the folks at the Metropolitan Markets, including Tacoma, take peaches seriously.

Every year they host Peach-O-Rama. And true to Metropolitan Market form, the peaches they pick are only the smartest.

No really — all of the Met’s boxes of peaches are tested daily by professional produce guru and peach expert Dino Medica to ensure that all peaches bought at
Met Market are acing their taste bud report cards.

The Brix test records the amount of sugar (or sweetness) in a peach. The higher the number scored on the Brix test, which uses a special tool called a refractometer, the sweeter (and smarter) the peach.

Met Market uses two “valedictorian” growers of the peach world to harvest its peaches: Frog Hollow Farms Organic from Brentwood, California, and the family-owned Pence Peaches from the lower Yakima Valley.

20150731_Peachorama_645Unsure which peach variety to pick? Medica says peaches with “lady” attached to their name are usually amazing. (Try Pence’s “Elegant Lady” or Frog Hollow Farms’ “Summer Lady”) Another peach fact to remember (in case of a pop peach quiz): While the standard art class project may ask you to stack peaches pyramid-style in a bowl, that can bruise the peach. Keep peaches stored in a single layer and on a cushioned surface. Also, peaches are best when stored at classroom temperature (55-78 degrees).

Met Market gleefully supplied some tasty peach recipes to indulge in during peach season. But if cooking sounds a lot like homework, no one will tell the teacher if you cheat and get right down to the sweet stuff and just take a big ol’ bite of your peach.

 

Pick Your Own

  • August and September is usually the best time to pick peaches in Washington — and most of the juiciest peaches are grown in Eastern Washington. Here are a few farms to check out:
  • Stutzman Ranch, Wenatchee
  • Barrett Orchards, Yakima
  • All Natural U Pick, Yakima
  • Thompson’s Farm, Naches

20150731_Peachorama_675Peach 101

  • A big peach only has about 70 calories.
  • Georgia might be nicknamed the “peach state” but China and Italy grow most of the world’s peaches.
  • It’s a member of the rose family.
  • Look for even coloring and give it a squeeze to determine if its ripe! It shouldn’t be too hard, or too soft.

Peachy Ideas

  • Mix a few ice cubes + one peach + one banana + some almond milk in a blender for a creamy peach smoothie.
  • Add peaches to your morning oatmeal.
  • Make a simple peach crisp or cobbler for dessert and top with ice cream. There are a lot of recipes at allrecipes.com.
  • Make peach preserves and use it on everything from PB&J sandwiches to grilled salmon.

20150731_Peachorama_646Peachy Crème Brulee

serves four

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Garnish: fresh peaches

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat water for water bath.

2. Bring milk and cream to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until it becomes pale and yellow. Add a little of the hot milk to the sugar and egg mixture to temper, and then add the rest of the milk mixture, blending well. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.

3. Pour the mixture into four small ramekins or gratin dishes. Place ramekins in a roasting pan or casserole dish lined with a clean kitchen towel to keep the ramekins from sliding. Place the pan in the oven and pour hot water into the pan, trying not to splash the custard as you pour. The hot water should come up to the way mark on the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes in a water bath or until the custard sets. Chill.

4. Sprinkle the top of the custard with brown sugar and place the ramekins under the broiler in the oven until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Serve with peaches on top!

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