We're getting close to that time...the annual harvest! Read on for tips on timing and best practices when harvesting peaches, pluots, plums and nectarines! And hey, this might even help when picking out fresh stone fruit from the grocery!
PEACHES AND NECTARINES
Peaches and nectarines are best when tree ripened, meaning when they're at that perfect point to pluck them off the tree and take that first juicy bite.
Peaches ripen from the bottom up toward the stem and from the smooth side toward the split side, so giving them a feel on the upper "shoulder" closets to the split will tell you if a peach is ripe. If it gives a little, it's ready. If it's feeling a little firm - give it a day or two. There should be no green on the fruit and it should come off the branch with a slight twist.
Aim for harvesting while still a little firm because as we all know, soft peaches don't store well! But an overload of fresh fruit is always a great excuse to get cooking! Check out this recipe for Roasted Stone Fruit with Shortcake.
PLUMS AND PLUOTS
Plums usually ripen between July and October. Alike peaches and nectarines, they ripen best on the tree. Ripe plums should come off the tree easily with a lift and slight twist. If you are planning to dry the plums, you can let them fall from the tree naturally, but check often as ripe fruits attract pests. Here are some delicious recipes to enjoy your harvest.
Overwhelmed with your harvest? We have the perfect solution...
STONE FRUIT SIMPLE SYRUP
Perfect for your sangria, sweet tea and other summer drinks - cheers!
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
8 pieces assorted stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums)
Simple syrup is a sugar syrup made with a ratio of 1 to 1, sugar to water. In this version, you use 1 cup of sugar and 1 ½ cups water and submerge 8 pieces of stone fruit, sliced to impart more flavor.
Bring the sugar, water and fruit up to a simmer, and simmer until the liquid has reduced to the 1 to 1 ratio, and the fruit has given the syrup its flavor, aroma and color, roughly 1-2 hours on simmer. Strain out the fruit and store the stone fruit simple syrup in the fridge for up to 6 months.
The syrup can be used in tea, sangria, cocktails, over ice cream, to moisten layer cakes, or made into sauces.