August Is National Peach Month: Get The Skinny On Peaches

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August is National Peach Month, and we're celebrating peaches by sharing everything we know about them! This is your official guide to peaches for the rest of the summer, whether you need a few recipes or just the know-how on buying them at the grocery. Don't let the peach's sticky reputation deter you from the wonderful fruit that is so sweet.

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Variety of peaches: First off, you need to know how to tell the difference between different types of peaches. There are two cultivars of peaches: freestone and clingstone. Freestone peaches are the most commonly sold peaches at grocery stores, which is good if you're looking to eat one out of hand because they do not cling to their pits. However, if you want to can or preserve your peaches, you'll do better with the clingstone peach. Clingstones do cling to their pits, which makes canning and preserving a little easier than the freestone peach. You'll have a better shot at finding a clingstone at a farmer's market than at a grocery store. (via About.com)

How to buy peaches: According to Local Foods, Most peaches in the US come from Georgia, South Carolina and California, and it is best to buy those peaches during the months of June, July and August. Contrary to popular belief, the red color in peaches does not indicate ripeness. To ensure that the peaches you're buying will be ready to bite into when you get home, make sure that there is a defined crease, a slight give (not entirely firm, but not entirely mushy either), no green color around the stem and no wrinkles in the skin. Most importantly, follow your nose! If you buy a peach that smells as delicious as you'd like it to taste, chances are you've picked a winner.

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How to store peaches: Peaches are pretty easy to store. Simply set them on the counter at room temperature and wait for them to ripen to your liking. Worried about those pesky fruit flies? Try one of these simple, DIY fruit fly traps. When the peaches are ripe, set them in the crisping drawer in your refrigerator. They should keep for about five days. If you have more peaches than you know what to do with, try peeling them, slicing them and placing them on a baking tray in the freezer for a few hours. Transfer the wedges to plastic baggies and put them back in the freezer. You should be able to hang onto those for a few months, and can use them at any point. Frozen peaches are perfect for smoothies or baking, like this recipe for Roasted Honey and Cinnamon Peaches! (via About.com)

How to peel peaches: First, cut an "x" into the base of each peach you want to peel (which is called "scoring"). Second, bring a pot of water to a boil and place the peaches in boiling water. Boil them for 40 seconds, unless they're a little under-ripe, in which case leave them in the boiling water for a minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the now-blanched peaches into a bowl of ice water, where you will leave them for one minute. Drain the water and pat the peaches dry. Starting where you cut into the base earlier, peel back the skin with your fingers or a paring knife. The skin should peel right off. (via About.com)

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(Photo: Local Foods)

How to slice peaches: According to Local Foods, there are a couple ways to slice them. If they are peeled, hold a peach in your hand and over a bowl to catch any juices, cut into it toward the pit. Move your knife parallel as far as you want your slices to be wide, and make another cut toward the pit. Flick your knife toward the direction of your original cut and the slice should fall out. Continue around the circumference of the peach until you are left with the lone pit. If you're slicing an unpeeled peach, simply cut it in half all the way around. Twist the halves in opposite directions until the pit loosens. Then pull the halves apart and remove the pit. Cut each half into slices or wedges. If you want to peel the slices, it's not difficult to slide a pairing knife under the skin and peel it away. Click here for the 411 on kitchen knives!

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(Photo: What's Cooking Good Looking)

How to cook with peaches: Peaches are the perfect fruit to use either by themselves, paired with something simple liked whipped cream, or worked into baked goods like cobbler, crisp or cake. While we're still on the topic of dessert, check out Eating Well's Peach Frozen Yogurt. Peaches also lend themselves perfectly to fresh smoothies and salads. Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger work well with peaches, as do additions like almonds and amaretto. Did you know you could even grill peaches? Check out our list of fantastic grilled fruit recipes. For a delicious salad that's perfect for summer, try this amazing Grilled Chicken, Peach and Avocado Salad. Click here for the recipe.

grilled chicken peach and avocado salad
(Photo: Gaby What's Cooking)

The dog days of August are upon us, but thanks to peaches – and cocktails – you can try and beat the heat. Compliment these recipes with Cookie and Kate's peach mojito or the Intoxicologist's Low Calorie Peach Bikini Cocktail to keep cool for the rest of your summer!