It is August and our farmer’s markets are overflowing with stone fruit. What does this mean? All the fruit that have the center pits, or stones, come under this name such as peaches, nectarines, plum, apricots (all the hybrids like Pluots) and even cherries. We were so inspired that we came up with our Peaches and Cream Dump Cake.
The stones themselves have been used in cuisine for centuries, most famously cherry pits are left in classic French clafouti to add flavor, and apricot kernels (the pits) are what give the traditional Italian amaretti their almond like flavor.
When it comes to recipes that use peaches or nectarines, they are often interchangeable, the primary difference being the skin and the pit. Peaches have fuzz on the outside of the skin – some feature barely-there fuzz, others feel like they are wearing a sweater! When we eat a peach out of hand, we like to eat them as is, but many recipes using peaches call for peeling them first. Sounds like a pain, but it is very easy if you follow our technique:
- Start with firm but ripe peaches. If they aren’t ripe, this won’t work
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil
- Use a large slotted spoon to lower a couple or a few peaches down into the boiling water (they should have room to move)
- After about 20 seconds, look for a split in the skin, which is a sure-fire visual, but that doesn’t always occur
- You can also use the slotted spoon to lift one peach out of the water. Use fingers to gently pinch the skin. If it feels loose, the peaches are ready to peel.
- Remove peaches and plunge into a bowl of ice water
- Use fingers to slip the peels off of the peaches
- If the skins are resistant, you can carefully use a paring knife to help
Now nectarines have a smooth skin and we usually bake with them, skin and all. So if you have a peach recipe that calls for peeling the peaches, you could try using a nectarine, skin and all, such as in our Peaches and Cream Dump Cake. The results might be a bit more rustic, but that might even be a bonus. Plus, so many nectarine skins sport such gorgeous sunset hues, from yellow to orange to red, that they can visually enhance your dish.