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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce

 

It’s peach time in Missouri

 

peachesSummer is the time for fresh, juicy, sweet peaches. Take advantage of easy access to locally grown, tree-ripened peaches while they are in season because peaches do not get sweeter once harvested.

 

“Peaches shipped in from out of state are picked before fully ripe, and will soften over time, but won’t get sweeter,” explains Lynda Johnson, nutrition & health education specialist with MU Extension.

 

You can easily obtain locally grown fruit by visiting area orchards, roadside produce stands and farmer’s markets. Several counties across Missouri have peach orchards, particularly Lafayette County, ranked number one in Missouri for its fruit and berry production.

 

For best quality, select peaches that are firm to slightly soft and free from bruises. The best sign of ripeness in a peach is a creamy or golden undertone, often called “ground color.” Fresh peach fragrance also indicates ripeness. Avoid peaches with a green ground color as they lack flavor and usually shrivel and become tough rather than ripen.

 

Firm, ripe peaches with good ground color will become fully ripe and soft in three to four days when kept at room temperature. Peaches are ready to eat when they give to gentle palm pressure.

 

To store fully ripe peaches, place in the refrigerator and use within three to five days. For ease in peeling, Johnson suggests dipping peaches into boiling water for about 30 to 60 seconds, then plunging them into ice water. The peach skins will slip right off. To keep cut peaches from browning, drizzle with lemon or orange juice, or use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture as directed.

 

A medium peach contains about 40 calories, and provides vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Johnson indicates these nutrients, plus phytochemicals in peaches, may help reduce your risk for certain cancers, heart disease and age-related vision loss.

 

Peaches can easily be preserved by freezing, processed using the water bath canning method, or made into sweet spreads. Many enjoy preparing spicy pickled peaches or peach salsas. For tested recipes and procedures to preserve peaches, contact your local MU Extension office, or visit the MU Extension website at extension.missouri.edu

 

Try out this Peachy Chipotle Salsa recipe as a way to makeover your family’s meals and boost fruit consumption.

 

Peachy Chipotle Salsa
Serves: 6 ( cup per serving)
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ripe peaches, diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup canned chipotle chili peppers, seeded & minced
  • 1 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted & crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Delicious served over baked fish, chicken or pork.

 

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH). This recipe meets PBH and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) nutrition standards that maintain fruits and vegetables as health foods.

 

For more information on nutrition and health topics, contact Lynda Johnson, M.S., R.D., Nutrition & Health Education Specialist with University of Missouri Extension at 660-584-3658 or johnsonl@missouri.edu.

 


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Last update: Tuesday, August 12, 2014