Stonefruit TLC tips & recipe
Finding perfectly ripe stonefruit in a store is a rare event, but as a kind of fruity compensation, late-summer sees box after box of peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and even late cherries coming out of cool store, et voila, stonefruit is affordable.
Its condition varies from rock-hard to limp, there will be bruises, there might not be any immediate juiciness, but for the next few weeks, stonefruit is but a knife cut away from a stunning dessert (or coulis, jam, relish . . .). Here's a peach option that suits even those with gluten-free requirements.
PEACHES IN WINE WITH HAZELNUTS & CHERRIES
Now that growers have extended the cherry season into the peach season, another two-fruit dessert is possible.
|4 large white peaches, sliced|
|1 cup white wine|
|2 Tbsp sugar|
|Water, as needed|
|Vanilla pod, split|
|2 Tbsp redcurrant jelly|
|6 tsp ground hazelnuts|
|2 Tbsp pitted and sliced black cherries (optional)|
1 Tbsp chopped mint leaves
|1. Cut the "cheeks" off each peach, or cut the peaches into halves.|
2. Put the fruit pieces in a saucepan big enough to take all the fruit in a single layer.
3. Dissolve the sugar in the wine and pour over the fruit. Add water if necessary to barely cover the fruit with liquid.
4. Add the split vanilla bean and gently cook at a simmer for 2-3 minutes (don't overcook).
5. Remove fruit, drain and cool.
6. Add the redcurrant jelly to the syrup and simmer until reduced by about a third and put aside to cool.
7. Preheat oven to 180C.
8. Arrange fruit pieces in an oven dish, mix the ground hazelnuts with the cherries if using and spoon a little stuffing in or on to each.
9. Pour the reduced syrup over all and bake uncovered - less than 10 minutes - until the syrup bubbles and the fruit is cooked through.
10. To serve scatter with finely chopped mint leaves.
GENERAL STONEFRUIT TIPS
Raw stonefruits respond to TLC: apricots, if placed stem-end down in a warm spot that gets some sun, will soften and improve in taste in 2-3 days. After that time they will wrinkle and lose both fragrance and taste.
Peaches and nectarines will ripen at room temperature if left uncovered for two or three days, but will never have the juiciness or fragrance of tree-ripened fruit. Refrigerating less than ripe stonefruit will do nothing other than keep them cool. Ripe yellow-fleshed peaches (golden queen is the best-known variety) are good keepers, but not in a refrigerator; after a week they begin to rot from the inside out. Cherries and most plums will store well when refrigerated.