Life is so peachy

The peach trees here at Ballymaloe stand against the gorgeous south-facing wall of the cookery school. The elegant trees are well sheltered with screens in the wintertime, as the Irish climate is not as forgiving as that which they're used to.
 
Then, in the summer, the screens are removed and you can see the courageous little Irish peaches begin to appear. Last year, because of the hot sun soaking into their leaves, the peaches were sweeter than ever. As good as any you'd buy in the South of France or Spain, and made all the more delicious when you've picked them yourself.
 
Even if you haven't a peach tree of your own, this is the time to eat peaches - the height of summer, when they haven't travelled too far to your plate, and are as juicy and tender as they'll ever be.
 
I love the doughnut peaches you can buy. I've even seen them for sale in Lidl for the past few years. They're smaller than regular peaches, with a distinctive flavour and a characteristic squashed, doughnut-like appearance.
 
When it's ripe and soft, a great peach needs little embellishment. Nature has done all of the considerable work to bring us such a feast. Then again, I still love putting them to work in desserts, and even in salads. Their divine flavour is perfect for cakes and jellies. And, much like a mango, they bring a welcome burst of sweetness to salads, especially with the savoury crunch of some toasted nuts.
 
Roasting peaches brings out some extra sugar in the fruit - doing this also enhances their flavour through caramelisation. It's a useful idea to roast peaches that aren't quite sweet enough to begin with, as this gives them a helping hand. I'll also roast peaches that are very slightly overripe. It helps preserve them, too. A roasted peach will keep for a few days in the fridge. Reheated, they'll make a fabulous addition to vanilla ice cream and, perhaps, some raspberry sauce.
 

Peach Recipes: 

Shaneod Jul 14, 2014 News