Peaches, Plums & Necterines

21/07/2012 09:57

Biting into really ripe fruit and the juice running down your chin has to be one of the best summer taste experiences ever!

Peaches ~ Soft, fuzzy pinkish -yellow skin with a yellow or white flesh which is sweet and very juicy.

Nectarines ~ A smooth-skinned variety of peach, with a sharper flavour and firm flesh. Some peach trees can suddenly start to grow nectarines.

~ There are many varieties of plums, either tart for cooking or sweet for eating. Plums come in a range of rich hues from light greens and yellows to dark reds and purples.

Choosing the best - look for fruit that is plump, firm and heavy for its size. The flesh should give when lightly pressed. Colour isn't really a sign of ripeness, instead give it a sniff- ripe fruit is very aromatic. Fruit will soften off the tree but won't get any sweeter.

* To remove the stone, run a sharp knife around the natural groove of the fruit and, holding half in each hand, gently twist the two halves in opposite directions. If ripe the two halves will come away easily.

* Peel stone fruit as you would a tomato- cut a small cross in the bottom of the fruit and drop into boiling water for a few seconds, then refresh in cold water - the skins will peel off easily. Rub the peeled fruits with lemon juice to keep them from darkening.

Nectarines can be eaten out of hand or sliced and added to fruit salads or as a topping on ice cream or yogurt. Nectarines can also be used in meat dishes including pork, chicken and fish. They can be baked in pies and cobblers or added to bread or pastry recipes. Cooking softens nectarines and enhances their sweetness. It can also salvage slightly under ripe fruit

Plum jam is a favouite of mine, the best for jamming has to be the damsons, as they break down well and produce a luscious dark-coloured preserve that is full of flavour.

Cobblers I love them!

~ Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream~
Serves 4-6

6 peaches, peeled & sliced
4 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp almond extract

Cobbler topping ~
175g plain flour
115g caster sugar
85g butter, diced
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4-5 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven 225C/ 425F/Gas mark 7
Place the peaches into a 23 cm square oven proof dish. Add the sugar, lemon juice, cornflour, and almond extract and mix together. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the cobbler topping, sift the flour, all but 2 tbsp of the sugar, the baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until you have fine crumbs. Combine the egg and milk and mix into the dry ingredients with a fork until a soft, sticky dough forms. If the dough seems to dry, stir in a extra tbsp of milk. Reduce the oven temp to 200C/ 400F/ Gas 6, Remove the peaches from the oven and drop spoonfuls of the topping mix over the surface, without smoothing. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar, return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the top is golden and firm- the topping will spread as it cooks.


Try this easy recipe for baked plums, serve with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream or dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serves 4

10 plums, halved & stones removed
4 tsp Honey
1 tsp Cinnamon
Grated rind of orange

Put the prepared plums into a buttered, oven proof baking dish, cut side facing upwards. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and add orange rind, and drizzle over the honey. Pop in the oven at 200C/ Gas 6 and bake for 15 -20 minutes until the fruit is tender.