T.S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock wondered if he should dare to eat one, but for many fruit lovers, biting into a peach isn't a question, it's just a part of summer.
Brandon Smith, a worker on Watsonia Farms, a four-generation peach farm in Monetta, S.C., said the key to growing a good peach is controlling the moisture to the fruit.
"Peaches are conducive to mold and fungus, things related to moisture," he said. "That's why it's such a challenge."
As long as both moisture and insects can be controlled, the chances of having a good peach crop are high, he said.
Smith said he prefers yellow peaches to white ones, and likes them to be sweet and slightly tangy.
"The later summer peaches tend to be larger and juicier," he said.
Conducive to being eaten from the hand or on a plate, peaches also make a fine ingredient in recipes from pies to sauces and from salsas to cocktails.
Shawn Clouse, co-owner of Pure Sodaworks, a Chattanooga-based company that produces handmade soft drinks, said that while his favorite way to eat a peach is just to bite on in, "peach ice cream ain't half bad either."
And Michele Kephart, marketing manager for the Bluff View Art District, said she can't get enough peach cobbler in the summertime.
Both Bluff View and Pure Sodaworks are incorporating peaches into their seasonal menus.
Clouse and colleagues are making a peaches-and-cream soda that is ripe for summer. The drink includes flavoring made from organic vanilla bean and peaches from Rainbow Hill Farm in McMinnville, Tenn.
The Bluff View Bakery is featuring a peaches-and-cream coffee cake. For last Sunday's Peach Festival at Chattanooga Market, a confection called "La Peche," French for "the peach," was created.
The pastry consisted of two hollow brioche balls filled with pastry cream, dipped in a peach syrup, rolled in sugar for a fuzzy look and topped with green fondant leaves and a chocolate stem.
It sold out in 30 minutes, Kephart said.
While peaches are often used in desserts, the sweet and tangy fruit also can be incorporated into savory foods.
Chattanooga Market vendor Lannie Harte, owner of Daylilies in Cleveland, Tenn., makes peach preserves, peach jelly, peach butter, peach salsa - with or without moonshine, pickled peaches and Vidalia onion peach relish. And that's only a small selection of concoctions Harte can make.
"Try the peach and habanero salsa," she told a customer last week. "It's a good, sweet, slow burn."
Sweet Tea Rice With Jalapeño, Peaches and Pecans
2 cups sweetened tea
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 large fresh peach, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Bring tea to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; stir in rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until tea is absorbed and rice is tender.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add pecans, and cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add jalapeño, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in hot cooked rice, diced fresh peach, chives, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Source: Southern Living
Roasted Peach Sundaes
3 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt
6 gingersnaps, crumbled (optional)
Heat oven to 425 F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Toss peach halves with brown sugar and lemon juice, and place them cut side up on baking sheet. Roast until the peaches are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If the juice on the pan begins to burn, add a little water and loosely cover the fruit with foil.
Top each peach half with a 1/2-cup scoop of frozen yogurt and a sprinkle of crumbled gingersnaps (if using). Serve immediately.
Source: Eating Well
Honey Peach Pie
6 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup honey
2 fluid ounces peach schnapps, or more to taste
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 prepared pie crusts
Place peaches, honey and peach schnapps into a saucepan over medium heat, and cook until the peaches are softened and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Stir in sugar and cinnamon until combined. Stir in the flour, and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Simmer until the flour has thickened the filling, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer filling to a container, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 425 F.
Stretch bottom pie crust into a 91/2-inch pie pan; cut the other crust into 1-inch-wide strips. Spread the peach filling evenly into the bottom crust, and make a lattice crust from the strips, weaving the strips over and under each other. Pinch strips to the bottom crust at both ends.
Bake the pie in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, then remove and cover the crust edges with foil strips. Return to oven and bake until top crust is golden brown, about 30 more minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 2 hours to allow pie filling to set up.