Most peaches in Canada and the US are yellow-fleshed and at their peak from July to September.
Early in the season, I look for the Harkin variety; late season, Canadian Harmony are my favourite.
Of course Redhaven and Red Globe peaches never disappoint. Glohaven are particularly good for people who don't like too much fuzz on their skin. (And I know some of you are like that).
Now, for those familiar with the TV series Seinfeld, there is an episode where Kramer mentions the "Mackinaw" peach. At the time it aired (1995), no such variety existed.
But, according to Oikos Tree Crops, now they do.
Makinaw peaches are a small heirloom variety from Canada which are bright red, more heart-shaped and smaller than most peaches.
Kramer and The Mackinaw Peach
Actually, it looks more like a Red Globe:
How to Pick a Good One
Most varieties of peaches have the same characteristics when they are ripe. The key things to look for are:
1) The skin can be orange-red with some yellow in it (depending on the variety). Unripe peaches are green (so I shy away from those with green or a lot of yellow in their skin).
2) When pressed on, it should "give" - the ripest ones are a bit softer. Avoid mushy ones.
3) Check the skin for punctures, cuts, or bruises.
4) A good peach should smell, well, peachy. If you cannot detect a scent, it probably won't be flavourful.
A quick 22 second reminder
There's Cyanide in Peach Pits?
Now folks, I don't like to alarm anyone, but there is cyanide present in peach pits (and other fruit seeds). For this reason, I prefer to cut them using Jamie Oliver's method (shown in the next video).
According to Dr. Rodney Dietert from the Institute for Comparative and Environmental Toxicology at Cornell University, "The occasional consumption of a seed or two is not a problem."
However, Dr. Margaret Dietert, from Wells College, Aurora, N.Y. added, "A study of the toxicity levels of peaches and apricots clearly shows that 13 to 15 raw peach pit kernels would get you into the lethal range for adults."
Of course children and young babies are even more susceptible, so I like to err on the side of caution. Use a spoon to scoop out the pit, don't dig into it with a knife.
How to Prepare Peaches for the BBQ
Jamie Oliver's Home Cooking Skills
Juicy Grilled BBQ or Oven Peaches
Makes: 6 halves | Prep: 5 mins | Total: 20 mins
Credit: Mike McCune (mccun934 on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericI adapted this recipe from Mike McCune's post of his Grilled Peaches, a creative commons flickr photo.
3 tbsp. brown sugar (1 tbsp. per peach)
3/4 tsp. each of salt, cinnamon, and optional nutmeg (about a pinch per peach half)
Preheat grill to 550 - 600 F (288 - 315 C) or use broil/grill setting of your oven. In a small bowl, mix sugar and spices together and keep handy (with a tablespoon) near your grill or oven.
Wash peaches, pat dry, and cut in half. Carefully remove the pits with a spoon (as shown in previous video).
With tongs, carefully place peach halves flesh side down on grill (or use a broiler pan in the oven). Immediately, reduce grill or oven to low between 225 - 250 F (107 - 121 C). Allow them to cook for 2 - 3 minutes (if halves are small, check sooner).
Flip peach halves over (or carefully slide out broiler pan from oven) and sprinkle each with the sugar mix (about 2/3 tbsp. worth on each peach half). Note: If you don't have nutmeg, they still taste great.
Leave on grill (or return to oven) until juicy soft. The brown sugar will caramelize on top (takes about 8 to 12 minutes).
Easy Peachy Cottage Cheese Salad
Serves: 4 - 5 | Prep: 5 mins | Total: 10 mins
Easiest Way to Peel Peaches
This method is great for my drink recipe next
Rose's Canadian Peach Nectar
Makes: 40 oz. | Prep: 15 mins | Total: 25 mins
OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs
For Handling Hot Peaches
Be sure you have decent tongs
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(price as of Dec 15, 2015)