Colorado peaches are grown in the town of Palisade and are known for being extra juicy and sweet thanks to Colorado’s long sunny days and cool summer nights. Colorado peaches are so juicy some people call them sink peaches. What does that mean? Peaches grown in Colorado are so juicy we have to eat them over the sink!
We lucky Coloradoans are right in the midst of peach season, which runs from early July to mid-September. One of my favorite symbols of Colorado summers are the Palisade pop-up tents that line the side of our roads and sell this delicious fruit or the “Colorado Proud” signs in the supermarket proudly displaying one of Colorado’s most famous crops.
One of my favorite peach desserts using, of course, Palisade peaches is Rich Vanilla Peach Ice Cream, which follows.
Another one of my favorite Colorado fruits is Colorado Bing (or dark) cherries, which are in season mid-June through late-July. As the cherry season winds down and growers begin to harvest their peach crop, the seasons of these two luscious fruits intertwine only for a short time. This next week we will be lucky enough to purchase both fruits at our farmers’ markets. I created a recipe just for this occasion—Sliced Colorado Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream and a Balsamic Cherry Sauce. I have also included this recipe.
As prices in our supermarket continue to rise, we can save money by learning what is in season and cooking seasonally. Produce that is in season is normally less expensive.
Rich Vanilla Peach Ice Cream Serves 8
3 cups heavy or whipping cream 1 vanilla bean The night before:
In a small metal bowl, place cream and add 1 vanilla bean. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day:
1 vanilla bean ½ cup sugar 6 egg yolks 1 ½ cups fresh peaches, skinned, pitted, and diced In a food processor, place the second vanilla bean and blend until finely pulverized. Add sugar and continue to process until sugar is finely pulverized. Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium bowl, add egg yolks, and whisk until blended.
In a medium saucepan, heat cream and vanilla bean over medium heat until almost boiling. Discard the first vanilla bean and pour cream in a thin stream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat to make a light custard, about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Remove from the heat, cool, cover, and refrigerate until cold.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream freezer and fold in peaches. Freeze in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s directions.
Sliced Colorado Peaches and Vanilla Ice Cream with a Balsamic Cherry Sauce Serves 4
If you like to grill your peaches, this recipe works nicely for that purpose. You can substitute grilled peaches for fresh. This recipe uses fig balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have this flavor, use a good quality balsamic vinegar in its place and add sugar to taste.
For the cherry sauce:
1 pound (16-ounces) Bing (or dark) cherries, pitted ¼ cup fig balsamic vinegar 2 teaspoons kirsch
In a large saucepan, place cherries and balsamic vinegar over a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until cherries are soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the cherry mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Return the cherry mixture to the saucepan and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Add kirsch and stir to blend.
4 medium peaches 1 pint vanilla ice cream 4 lady fingers (optional) Fresh mint sprigs
Peel peaches and discard pit. Slice peaches into eighths. Using 4 martini glasses or dessert bowls, fill the bottom with half the peach slices from 1 peach. Top with 1 scoop ice cream and remaining peach slices. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons cherry sauce and garnish with a lady finger and a sprig of fresh mint.
Shopping for peaches: Peaches should have a well-defined crease, a sweet fragrance, and be soft to the touch, not mushy. Do not buy peaches that have “green shoulders” around the stem end. This is an indication the peach was picked prematurely. Peaches with large, flattened bruises will not ripen well. If the skin of the fruit is shriveled at the stem end or has turned a red-brown color, the peach is over-ripe.
Storing peaches: To ripen peaches, place them in a cool place, with their stem end down. If the peaches give slightly when pressed and begin to smell, they are ready to eat. Handle peaches gently as any bruising will show. Once ripe, these fruits will keep in the refrigerator 3 to 5 days.
Availability: Colorado peaches are in season from early-July through mid-September.
Shopping for cherries: When purchasing sweet red cherries, select fruit that is plump, bright, and glossy with a deep red to purple color. Cherries have passed their prime if they are soft, dull, or shriveled. Avoid buying fruit that has brown, bruised spots. Rainier cherries are best when they are firm and lack blemishes. Sour cherries should be firm, not hard, and have even color.
Storing cherries: Cherries are quite perishable and should be refrigerated immediately upon arriving home from the market. This fruit is best when eaten with 1 to 2 days of purchase. Always wash your cherries just before eating.
Availability: Colorado cherries are available mid-June through late-July
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates