Whenever I see ugly peaches for sale at a steep price, I think of poaching them for a quick summertime sweet. It’s quick and easy old-fashioned cooking. If you're like me and used to long for the canned peaches that went into the fruit cocktails that our moms made in the 1970s, this is the adult version.
Super ripe peaches are relatively easy to peel with a peeler or even your fingers. I got these at our local farmer’s market last week. There were the “rejects” at an organic stand where the “best quality ones” were being sold for $3 per pound. My uglies were $1 per pound. I selected four, imagining that they’d fit into a small pot at home.
The peaches were freestone or semi-freestone, meaning that the pit pulled away easily from the flesh; such peaches are great for cutting up for pies and the like. You can use clingstone but it may be hard to halve and remove the pit, a step I take to hasten the poaching process. Most commercially sold peaches are freestone or semi-freestone.
Then, it was merely a matter of peeling, poaching and chilling. The try part is choosing a pot that will snugly fit the peaches. They’ll soften and shrink a bit during cooking so keep that in mind.
I then had poached peaches with a slight bite to tantalize my husband nightly after dinner. For peach Melba, a classic created by French chef Escoffier in the late 1890s, serve the poached peaches atop vanilla ice cream and drizzle with raspberry puree. The Melba referred to celebrated opera star Nellie Melba.
Feel free to vary the spicing. Instead of ginger, try maybe a single green cardamom pod, lightly smashed. Or maybe a cinnamon stick. Can it be any easier? No.
Poached Peaches with White Wine and Ginger Recipe
Yield: Serves 4 to 8, depending on your appetite for peaches
- 4 ripe medium peaches
- 3 slices ginger, each about 1/4-inch thick, smashed lightly
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- Peel the peaches with your fingers, a paring knife or vegetable peeler. If that doesn't work you can cut an "X" a the bottom and parboil them in a pot of simmering water to loosen the skin. Halve the peaches. Remove the pits and discard.
- Put the peaches in a pot, cut side down so that they all more or less fit in one layer.
- Add the ginger, sugar, white wine and water. There should be enough to just cover the fruit. Mix up and add more, if needed. Bring the pot to a simmer. Taste and add extra sugar, wine or water to create a delicately sweet flavor. Simmer gently for 8 to 12 minutes, until tender. Test by sticking a knife tip into a peach half.
- Remove from the heat, cool, uncovered. Serve or cover and refrigerate.