Fresh summer peaches are ripe and plentiful

Freestones and clingstones are the two main types of fresh peaches in the markets, and their names make plain their chief characteristics. With a freestone peach, the pit separates readily from the flesh when the fruit is mature.

The flesh of a clingstone, on the other hand, is firmly attached to the pit. Then there are the semifreestone peaches, in which the flesh separates moderately well from the pit of ripe fruit.

Most all the early peaches are either clingstone or semifreestone, while most of the later varieties are freestones.

Because they have a firmer flesh, many of those varieties have been developed for canning, although freestones are often more flavorful when eaten raw. Their flesh is often described as "melting."

When peaches are purchased for home consumption they should look good and also have a "peachy" fragrance. While a red color on the peach makes it look pretty, the background color should be yellow, or at least creamy.

Peaches that are bought when firm-ripe may be ripened in the direct sunlight, or in a bag with a few holes to allow some air circulation.

Bought in quantity during the height of the season, these fruits are easily canned or frozen, or made into delicious preserves.

They are great for eating our of hand, sliced with cold cereal, eaten with milk, cream or ice cream, or cooked with meats or in many delicious desserts. Here are a few recipes to hlep you enjoy summer peaches. Fresh Peaches and Grapes 6 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced 1 pound seedless green grapes 3/4 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix peaches and grapes together in a bowl. Beat cream until just barely whipped. Fold into fruits. Sprinkle top with brown sugar. Serves 6. Blueberries or raspberries would make a nice substitution for the green grapes. Summer Fruit Salad 4 cups lettuce leaves 3 cups summer fruits -- sliced peaches, plums, nectarines, seedless grapes 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds Almondine dressing: 1/3 cup vegetable oil 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons orange juice 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon basil, crumbled 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

In large bowl combine lettuce and fruits.In small bowl whisk together all ingredients for dressing except almonds. Cover and chill. Just before serving, stir in almonds. Toss salad with dressing. Top with slivered almonds. Serves 4 to 6. Tarragon Chicken With Peaches 1 frying chicken, cut up Fresh tarragon 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice 1 tablespoon oil 4 tablespoons butter 1 onion, chopped Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, optional 1 1/2 cups stock, or more to cover 6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced Paprika

Put pieces of fresh tarragon under skin of chicken. Squeeze with lemon juice and leave for 1 or 2 hours.

Heat oil and 2 tablespoons butter and brown chicken in a casserole. Remove and lower heat to saute onion, and add salt, pepper, and turmeric. Return chicken to casserole and add stock. Simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Arrange peaches on top and dot with remaining butter. Simmer until chicken is done, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove to serving platter and keep warm.If there is too much liquid boil it down until there is about 1/2 cup.

Correct seasoning and spoon liquid over chicken and peaches in platter. Sprinkle with paprika and tarragon. Serves 4 to 6. Frozen Peach Mousse 2 pounds peaches, 6 or 7 medium 2 tablespoons lemon juice 6 egg yolks 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons flour 4 egg whites, at room temperature Pinch cream of tartar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup heavy cream, whipped 1 1/2 cups amaretti, coarsely crumbled

To peel peaches, immerse in boiling water 20 to 30 seconds. Peel, remove pits, and chop coarsely. Puree peaches with lemon juice in food processor or blender, a little at a time.

Beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in flour and combine mixture with peach puree.

Heat in double boiler or over low heat, stirring constantly with large wooden spoon about 15 minutes until hot and thickened.

Remove and cool slightly at room temperature, then refrigerate to complete cooling. To chill rapidly, place over a large bowl filled with ice cubes.

When chilled, beat egg whites in large bown until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff. Add remaining 3/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until you have a stiff meringue.

Stir vanilla into peach custard. Fold into egg whites then fold in whipped cream and crumbled amaretti. Turn into 8-cup souffle dish and freeze. About 2 hours before serving, remove from freezer and place in refrigerator to soften. Serves 10 to 12. Gingered Peach Cheesecake 1 8-ounce package cream cheese 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 3 medium size fresh California peaches Whipped cream, sour cream or yogurt Brown sugar

Beat cream cheese until fluffy and smooth. Beat in sugar, vanilla, ginger, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Remove skin from 1 peach: dip into boiling water a few seconds, immerse into cold water, then peel off skin. Finely dice peach to measure 1/2 cup.

Add to cheese mixture and beat until fruit is slightly crushed. Fill 4 individual 1-cup baking dishes and set in 9-inch square baking pan. Fill pan to half the depth of dishes with hot water.

Bake in 325 degrees F. oven 30 minutes, until just set. Cool before serving. When ready to serve, pare and slice remaining 2 peaches and arrange over each serving. Swirl a little whipped cream, sour cream, or yogurt on top. Sprinkle lightly with brown sugar. Makes 4 servings. Peach Crisp 4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/4 cup better, softened 1/2 teaspoon salt, if butter is unsalted 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place sliced peaches in a 9-inch pan or dish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Measure remaining ingredients into a small bowl and work with finger tips or pastry blender until crumbly.

Spread over peaches. Bake about 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 6. Peach Ice Cream 4 pounds ripe peaches 1/2 to 3/4 sugar sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup sugar 2 cups cream 2 cups whipping cream

Peel, slice, and mash peaches. Stir in sugar and salt. Cover closely and keep refrigerated until sugar is dissolved.

Combine vanilla, 1/2 cup sugar, light cream, and whipping cream. Partly churn-freeze these ingredients according to ice cream freezer instructions. When half-frozen, add fruit mixture and continue freezing.

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