The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 08.10.04


Peaches, glorious peaches

Get 'em while they're fresh, folks, 'cause they don't last long. Peaches have arrived in all their glory and all that fuzzy sweetness is crying out to be eaten. As you choose some for the table, remember to tell your honey she is as pretty as a peach.

Rub a peach against your cheek and smell the heady scent that only a peach can provide. While we in the north are proud of our apples, in the south they are proud of their peaches as is witnessed here:

"An apple is an excellent thing - until you have tried a peach." -- George du Maurier (1834-1896)

As is often the case, the peach arrived from far-away lands.

The ancient Chinese considered the peach a symbol of long life and immortality. These "Persian apples" actually had their beginning in China, but were developed in Persia and went from there to Europe and then to America with the colonists. Indians were fond of peaches and quickly spread their cultivation ahead of the white settlements.

Ever notice how today's peaches aren't as fuzzy as they used to be? This has nothing to do with the peaches being genetically altered by farmers.

Instead, due to consumers' desire for fuzz-less peaches, most commercially grown varieties are mechanically brushed after harvest to remove most of the fuzz. You will likely find fuzzier peaches at local markets.

And now for the all-important question:

What's the difference between a nectarine and a peach?

Not much, according to my research.

One carries a gene that produces the famous fuzz we all love to hate while the nectarine has a sharper and more peppery taste. Both tastes are hard to distinguish once fully ripe.

Many articles suggest storing peaches in the refrigerator, but I believe that if you have them you should eat them up promptly. Cooling them only results in less taste, in my opinion.

Last week I bought way too many for our household to consume in matter of a few days. As is often the case, I frantically searched for recipes to put them to good use. Certainly, there are a lot of jam recipes and various cobblers and pies that do the trick. The thing is, it's summer and I do not want to spend too much time in the kitchen of late.

The following recipe produced the right results. It satisfied my laziness and produced a delicious dessert that goes well with a classic vanilla ice cream.

What more could you ask for on a peachy summer evening?

Peach Crumble

Sliced fresh peaches (peeled or not, your choice - I peeled mine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 stick of softened butter

Place the sliced peaches in a glass pie plate, or any baking dish. Mix the brown sugar, flour and butter together in a separate bowl. Spread this mixture over the peaches. Sprinkle lots of cinnamon on top of this and bake in a 350-degree oven until done, about 30 minutes.