Peaches have a fuzzy, velvety skin, which varies in colour from red to pale yellow. The flesh inside can also vary from white and shades of yellow to red.
Like other varieties of stone fruit, such as nectarines and plums, peaches can have a freestone which easily comes away from the flesh, or a clingstone which is more difficult to remove.
Peaches are in season in South Australia between December and April. Well-known varieties include Spring Lady, Sweet Scarlet, Red Jenni, Desert Red and Flamecrest. When selecting peaches, look for those that are firm and plump with good colouring. Avoid any that are green, hard and do not yield to gentle pressure.
According to local grower Mark Grieger from Cooinda Proprietors, who sells at the Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market, this season has seen late flowering but early ripening of a range of stone fruit, including peaches.
“The shortened growing season means some of the fruit will be of smaller size and with a slightly reduced sugar content this year, but overall quality is excellent with no major weather events impacting on ripening and harvesting,” he says.
“All growers across the Riverland, where we grow our fruit, are reporting heavy crops this year.”
Cooinda Proprietors and other market stallholders began picking peaches last month and expect to continue until April, with freestone fruit continuing to ripen until mid-March. Some clingstone peach varieties are available now and later ripening varieties are expected to be picked through to autumn.
It is best to use peaches within two to three days, letting them ripen at room temperature and then refrigerating them in an unsealed plastic bag. They can be eaten fresh or served with ice cream, in salads, sauces, cakes or with meats. They are a versatile fruit that can be stewed, poached, baked or grilled.
You can find peaches at Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market at stalls run by The Food Forest, Eko Fresh Fruits, B&A Andonopoulos, Virgara’s Garden, McLaren Vale Orchards, Ashbourne Valley Orchards and Cooinda Proprietors. Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market runs on Sundays, 9am to 1pm at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville.
B&A Andonopoulos also trades at the Willunga Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 8am to 12.30pm, and EKO Fresh Fruits will be a stallholder at the new Gawler Farmers’ Market opening on Saturday, January 30. The Gawler Farmers’ Market will be open from 8am to noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, Lyndoch Road, Gawler.
Willunga Farmers’ Market chair Pip Forrester says that when peaches are in season there is nothing better than enjoying them in simple ways; when they are gently poached, they develop the most delicious flavour and glorious hue. Here is one of her favourite summer stone-fruit recipes.
Poached peaches with raspberries and Jersey cream
4 just-ripe peaches
1 punnet raspberries
1 vanilla pod
Jersey cream to serve
Make a sugar syrup by placing the water, sugar and vanilla pod in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. (To increase the quantity, maintain the ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part sugar.) Do not allow to simmer or boil.
Poach the peaches whole in the vanilla sugar syrup until tender. Let the peaches cool in the syrup liquid and peel when cool, reserving some of the syrup for the raspberries.
Make a puree of the raspberries using a little of the syrup to sweeten.
Serve the peaches with a little of the raspberry puree and a dollop of Jersey cream (local dairy producers Fleurieu Milk and Alexandrina Cheese Company offer Jersey cream at both the Willunga Farmers’ Market and the Showground Farmers’ Market).
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