Cosentino: Peaches, nectarines and a great cobbler recipe | Lifestyles

Because of the busy spring season, I had not had time for several weeks to take a stroll through a supermarket. If you are in the flower business, spring is the season when you dash in, grab your needs and go. But this past weekend, I did have time to wander. The produce is looking better. Every imaginable berry is on a shelf and the watermelons are here. I love this time of year. And then I saw the peaches, nectarines and apricots. I took home some of each. You need to buy them carefully because they have a rather short pantry / refrigerator time. They are tastiest when they just get a bit soft and juicy.

Peaches and nectarines are part of a loose grouping of plants that comes from several plant families, most of them from the prunus or plum family. Cherries, plums and apricots are part of that plant family. Also grouped with the stones are fruits like mangoes, olives, dates and coconuts.

Of course, Georgia is known as the Peach State. The climate there is very favorable for this native of China. This tree originated there and over hundreds of years, found its way to Persia (Iran) and Turkey, and many hundreds of years later was a favorite food for the Iroquois of central and western New York. Our area had nearly as many peach as chestnut trees and apples. They were so common that Aurora was called Peachtown.

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There are many types of peaches. The first designation you run into is clingstone or freestone. The names are self-explanatory. The fruit either clings to the stone or it doesn’t. I just hate to work to get the flesh off the stone and sometimes leave half on. If it is not freestone, I just pass it by. The most visible difference between the peach and the nectarine is the fuzzy texture of the skin. Peaches are very fuzzy. Nectarines are not. Peaches are usually round, though if you use a little imagination, when you cut them in half, they seem to be heart-shaped. When ripe they are very sweet. In recent years, we have seen “donut peaches” in the grocery store. They are wider than the normal peach, only about an inch high and rather tart.

Although peaches are available nearly year-round, I do not think they are worth the effort from early November through April, when the Georgia peaches start to become available. In the off-season they just do not seem to get soft and sweet, like they do now. (I use frozen in the off-season.)

To finish with the peaches, I will tell you that my favorite dessert of all time, any time of the year, is peach cobbler. Though I love to cook, I am not a good baker, so for my dessert, I cheat.

Start the cobbler by going to Bass Pro Shops and picking up a container of Uncle Buck’s Fruit Cobbler Mix. You should save a second trip to the mall and pick up a second container. Turn the oven to 375 degrees and set a 9-by-9 baking dish on the center rack. Once the temperature is reached, add a quarter cup of butter. When melted, swish it around to cover the bottom of the dish, trying to coat as far up the sides as possible. In a large container, add 1 1/2 cups of Uncle Buck’s mix and 2/3 of a cup of milk. Do not over-mix, and pour over the butter. Now, cover the batter with a single layer of frozen or fresh, thinly sliced ​​peaches. There is added information about using fresh fruit on the container. It is worth following. Bake for 35 minutes and let cool. This recipe makes half a dozen generous portions. Delicious!

Carmen Cosentino

Carmen Cosentino

There really is not a whole lot of difference between the nectarines and the peaches, excepting that only the peaches have fuzzy skin. I think that the nectarines are much firmer when ripe, and believe they are delicious when grilled. Both fruits are delicious over a green salad when grilled, with sharp cheese or over ice cream.

Apricots, a second fuzzy fruit, is just appearing in stores. About half the size of a peach. Fuzzy and freestone. Just cut into it and enjoy. The riper, the better.

Be safe and enjoy summer.

Carmen Cosentino operates Cosentino’s Florist in Auburn with his daughter, Jessica. He was elected to the National Floriculture Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2008, received the Tommy Bright award for lifetime achievements in floral education. In 2016, Carmen and Jessica were presented Teleflora’s Tom Butler Award, naming Cosentino’s the florist of the year at the company’s annual meeting in Hawaii. Carmen can be reached at [email protected] or (315) 253-5316.


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