Several years ago, I was picking up a pile of peaches from Ashton Farms at Eastern Market here in Washington, DC. As usual, I was avoiding the bruised ones in search of firm perfection. “Tim,” I said to the farmer, “lots of bruised peaches this week, huh?”
“They’re the best ones,” he replied. “Peaches develop lots of sugar and tenderness as they finish ripening on the tree. The best, most flavorful peach is the one that sends juice running down your chin with each bite. However,” Tim said, “It’s hard to get that peach off the tree without a bruise, much less transport it to market.”
The perfect peach should have a little give when we you press it lightly between your fingers. And you will only find that peach at the farm market. The rigors of packing and shipping for grocery stores make it nearly impossible to deliver a great peach.
So how do you enjoy the ultimate summer stone fruit? Buy them tender and fragrant. Consider a little bruising to be a badge of full flavor. And those perfect peaches won’t last forever. Even with refrigeration, consider consuming your peaches in the first half of the week. If you want peaches on Thursday and Friday buy a couple that feel hard and let them ripen on the counter mid-week.
The best peaches, like some of my favorite people, seem to be easily spotted because they are slightly damaged. And, just like the peaches, a little bruising just seems to make them sweeter.
So, head back out to your farm market on Saturday morning and fill up. It’s going to be a sweet, juicy and delicious week!
Ginger Mint Stone Fruit Salad
From Jonathan Bardzik’s Seasons to Taste
This is so simple it’s embarrassing. A quick ginger mint simple syrup, earthy honey and a mild splash of white balsamic vinegar for brightness turn sweet summer stone fruit into something truly special.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2” ginger, cut in thin rounds
- 1/4 cup whole mint leaves, loosely packed
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
- 2 peaches, thinly sliced
- 2 nectarines, thinly sliced
- 2 pluots or sweet plums, cut in wedges
- Stir together sugar, water and ginger in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add mint and steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove solids and reserve syrup.
- Whisk together honey and vinegar in a small bowl. Add 2 tbs ginger mint syrup and whisk to combine.
- In a medium bowl, toss together peaches, nectarines and pluots. Dress with syrup mixture.
- Season to taste with additional syrup for sweetness or vinegar for a burst of bright acidity.
Tip: Are your stone fruit clingstone or freestone? Clingstone pits hold strongly onto the fruit. You’ll never get them out. It’s easiest to cut the fruit off the pit, just like cutting a mango. Freestone pits will pop right out and make your whole day!
Jonathan’s cookbooks offer simple recipes prepared with farm and garden-fresh ingredients to share with the people – friends, family and farmers – who make our lives matter.
Bring one home today or share one with someone special, click here.