Peach season's upon us whether they are peaches we purchase in stores, at roadside stands, or pick from trees in our back yard. So let's search through recipe books and midst family recipes to find ways to prepare this tasty fruit.

When I was growing up, there was one peach tree beside our garden. We used the peaches fresh and Mother canned some for winter use. If we didn't get enough fruit from our tree, we picked peaches at Grandma's farm, along with cherries and pears.

History of the Peach

A friend asked for ways to prepare this fruit from the tree in her backyard. As I researched for information and recipes, I discovered that the peach has been around for centuries. One resource said the peach, first raised in China, has existed for "thousands of years."

Peaches once were called Persian apples because they came to Europe by way of Persia and were given the botanical name, "Prunus persica." From there, the Spanish explorers took this fruit to the New World and Mexico. The European settlers...English in New England and French in the South...brought along peaches and planted them.

Peaches Grown Widely

Although large peach crops are grown in Georgia and other southern states, you will find them all along the Atlantic coast as far north as New Hampshire. They're on the West Coast, too, as well as some of the middle America states such as Ohio and Michigan.

Peaches are very versatile and can be served in many ways. Generally we think of them as a dessert type food, but they're also used as garnishes with main dishes, in salads, made into beverages, and often found in jam, conserves, chutney, and even are pickled.

This fruit is good eaten out-of-hand or cut into salads. You also can make tasty recipes with cooked peaches.

You'll find two types - cling and freestone peaches. The cling, as it's name implies doesn't come away from the pit as readily as the freestone peach. Either peach can be used interchangeably in recipes.

COTTAGE CHEESE -PEACH SALAD is simple to make and tasty. Cut peaches in halves and remove pit. Fill peach halves with cottage (plain or flavored). Arrange on lettuce and garnish with maraschino cherry and mint leaf. You also can use cooked or canned peaches instead of fresh.

Peach halves also can be filled with salad variations, such as seafood, chicken, and ham. You can mix the salads with cottage cheese before filling peach.

PEACH SHORTCAKE - This was a favorite of my childhood. Mother sliced peaches into small pieces(sometimes with peel left on) and added sugar to taste. She spooned this fruit over shortcake biscuit or white or angel food cake. You also can add blueberries to the peaches.

PEACH TAPIOCA - Prepare tapioca pudding according to your usual recipe and cool. Cut peach slices into individual serving dishes. If peaches are quite tart, sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Spoon tapioca over peaches. Garnish with a peach slice. Add whipped topping if desired. Blueberries or strawberries, along with the peaches, give this dessert a tasty variation.

(c)2003 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking articles for 40 years. She has compiled a family cookbook and teaches workshops on saving your family heritage through your recipes. Visit her web site: http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea; E-mail: [email protected])