I had given up entirely on peaches. I had eaten hard ones, sour ones, bitter ones, ones with inedible skin, brown and mushy ones, and – every rare once and a while – an OK one.
Peaches do not travel well because they bruise very, very easily. Because of this, supermarket peaches are picked when they are extremely unripe. The hope is that they’ll be ripe just as they arrive in the stores. They won’t. Most will have been picked so early that they’ll never really ripen, they’ll just rot.
Peaches are one of those fruits like tomatoes that I think aren’t worth it unless they are local and in season. But unlike tomatoes, even great local peaches are hard to shop for. Here’s the trick for getting perfect peaches: Buy the underripe ones – not rock hard, but firm – and spread them out on a sheet of newspaper, far enough apart so that they aren’t touching one another. They’ll ripen nicely and make your whole kitchen smell like peaches.
I served the ones above as dessert at a recent dinner party. There was a brief rolling of eyes as everyone saw that I was about to make a big point about how much better local produce is. Then they ate the peaches. That shut them right up.
A poll: Am I just being a crank here or have you all had the same experience? Until this summer at the farmer’s market, I hadn’t had a peach worth a damn in years. I think they are really one of the worst victims of agribusiness. Thoughts?