Tags Posts tagged with "Peaches"

Peaches

By Barbara Beltrami

Like the weather this season, peaches have been remarkably good. If you read my column last week, you’ll remember that I talked about peaches and what ideal desserts are wrought from them. And I also promised you another column about them this week. Well, you’re in for a treat because I’m going to tell you about what wonderful ingredients or complements peaches are for savory dishes.

I’ll bet you’re thinking, “No thanks, I think I’ll just stick with the those peachy desserts.” That’s what I said the first time I was introduced to peaches in a savory dish. But then I became a convert, and you will too after you’ve tasted refreshing peach, arugula, Gorgonzola and pecan salad; peach salsa; and ginger-peachy pork chops.

And by the way, none of this means you can’t have peach dumplings, peach crisp, peach shortcake, peach pie, peach cobbler, peach ice cream or just sliced fresh peaches in wine for dessert. Hey, when they’re this good, you have to go for their gold.

Peach, Arugula, Pecan and Gorgonzola Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS: 1 small head radicchio, washed and shredded or chopped

1 bunch arugula, washed

1 large peach, sliced

¼ cup chopped pecans

¹/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, toss together the radicchio, arugula, peach and pecans. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, vinegars, cheese, salt and pepper. Just before serving drizzle liquid mixture over radicchio mixture, toss to thoroughly coat, and serve immediately at room temperature with grilled chicken, beef, pork or shrimp.

Peach Salsa

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 large peach, pared and chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

½ cup seeded chopped jalapenos

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lime zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Toss all ingredients together; serve at room temperature. Best if served immediately but can be prepared a couple of hours in advance. Serve with taco chips, crackers, grilled beef or chicken.

Ginger-Peachy Pork Chops

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon vegetable, canola or peanut oil

4 medium pork chops

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup broth

1 teaspoon grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 large firm peaches, sliced

1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS: In a medium skillet heat the oil. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. With the heat on medium high, brown the meat, about 2 minutes per side. While the chops are browning, in a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, orange and lemon juices and set aside.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and set aside. Add the broth, grated ginger, garlic, liquid mixture and peaches to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until the sauce is thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the pork chops, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until meat is cooked through and peaches are soft, about 10 minutes. Place chops on a platter, spoon sauce over them and sprinkle with candied ginger and peanuts. Serve with rice and stir-fried bok choy, broccoli and snap peas.

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Peaches grow so easily on Long Island, this volunteer has thrived for years. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

One of the nice things about gardening on Long Island is our very acidic soil. Did I say that was one of the nice things? Yes, actually, if you are fond of certain fruits.

Soil pH measures how acidic or alkaline your soil is. The scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Below 7 is considered acidic with 4.5 to 5 being very strongly acidic. Much of mine tests out in this range. Above 7 is alkaline. How acidic or alkaline soil is determines how certain needed nutrients are taken up by different plants.

If your soil is very acidic, in the 4.5 to 5.5 range, then blueberries top the list. Blueberries are tasty and considered a nutrition powerhouse filled with phytonutrients and high in fiber. Blueberry bushes come in a number of varieties including high bush (tall) and low bush (shorter). The white spring flowers give way to the berries in summer. To prolong the picking season, select several varieties that range in maturity date from early to medium to late. Yes, consider netting as the berries begin to ripen since birds do love them, too.

Apple trees do well in Long Island’s soil, even down to a pH of 5.0. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Apple trees do well in Long Island’s soil, even down to a pH of 5.0. Photo by Ellen Barcel

In addition to the wonderful fruit they yield, the plants make a great living hedge. Since blueberry bushes are deciduous, the living hedge does not provide much screening in winter.

Bilberry and cranberry also do well in this very acidic range, 4.5 to 5. Cranberries were once raised commercially on Long Island. Cranberry Bog Preserve in Riverhead is located where this commercial operation was in business from the late 1890s to the 1930s. Local women were employed to harvest the berries. If you decide to try to raise cranberries, remember that lots of water is needed.

Other fruits that do well in acidic soil include rhubarb (5.5 to 6), raspberries (5.5 to 6.2), wineberries, which are an invasive variety of raspberries from Asia, and strawberries (5.5 to 6.5).

A plant that may need some lime is the grape vine. While it does well in a variety of soil conditions, the ideal soil pH is 5.5 to 6.8, lower for American vines, higher for some of the imports. If you soil is below the 5.5, then add lime. Different varieties of grapes do better in different soil pH levels, so read the tag that comes with your plants or do a bit a research on the specific variety you have selected.  Like most of the fruits mentioned above, grapes prefer a well-drained soil.

When it comes to fruit trees, the apple does very well in acidic soil, growing well even down to 5.0, which is considered strongly acidic.  Dwarf and semidwarf varieties mean that the home gardener can grow one or more even on a small piece of property and can easily harvest the fruit come fall.

Peaches do well in pH 6.5 (slightly acidic). If your soil is very acidic, you may need to add some lime. Two trees that “volunteered” in my yard are filled with beautiful pink flowers, which is why I keep the trees since the peaches themselves aren’t really great.

Another tree that yields fruit and does well on Long Island is the mulberry, pH range 5.5 to 6.5, moderately acidic. There are some negatives to the mulberry tree, however. It’s a “messy” tree in that the fruit and juice can easily stain anything with which they come in contact. And large limbs can easily break off from the tree. So, while it easily grows here, think about the negatives versus the positives before planting it.

All in all, many different varieties of fruit do well here in Long Island’s acidic soil. Remember to add fertilizer to you soil. Yes, compost is ideal, but if you prefer chemical fertilizers, read the package carefully to make sure it is formulated to help the fruits you are growing. Always follow manufacturer’s directions.

Also remember, that if you do need to add lime, depending on the variety it can take over a year or more for the lime to break down in the soil and be available for your plants to use. Again, read the package carefully.

So plant your favorite fruit tree or bush, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.