September 6, 2015
There are three ways to peel a peach. If you add the possibility of eating it unpeeled, that makes four ways to prepare a peach for eating. Do you dare to eat a peach?
Start by washing your peach. You can rub off most of the fuzz, but you don't need to unless you're eating it unpeeled. I'm not a fan of eating peach fuzz, myself.
To peel. How many peaches are you peeling? And how ripe are they? My favourite way is the most sensual but it calls for a very ripe peach.
Hold the peach in one hand, sharp paring knife in the other. Start at the blossom end and make a little incision. Then pull that flap of skin slowly down as far as you can, peeling it away in a langorous pull. Start another patch and pull down the skin. Notice how it chooses its own direction, its own width. Where will it go? What pattern will develop as you peel? But nothing really matters except the slow pulling off of the skin, an activity in which you can become lost--until the peach is all peeled, pinky-orange (peach-y, in fact) flesh moist and tempting.
Well, that's the best way. I started with the best. Second-best is to drop four or five peaches into boiling water and leave them for twenty seconds. Then scoop them out one at a time and drop them into cold water (ice water, even, if you aren't too lazy). Do another four or five. In no time you will have a whole basket of peaches ready for peeling, and here you are back at Step 1, as above. The blanching has loosened the skin so that you can actually slip the skin off the peach, leaving the beautiful flesh ready to be cut. This is really the only way to peel peaches in quantity.
If you have just a few peaches to peel and they are not ripe enough for method number one, then you can use a "soft-fruit peeler." It looks like an ordinary vegetable peeler, but the blade is designed for gentle peeling. It's good for peaches and tomatoes.
You already know how to cut a peach, but I'll tell you anyway. Hold the peach in your non-dominant hand, the paring knife in the other. Quickly make cut after cut, turning the peach as you do so, until you get back to the original cut. Now put down the knife and simply push the slices off the seed, letting them fall into your bowl. For smaller pieces (for a pie or crisp, for example), make those quick cuts as described, then cut all of them together around the equator, so that each slice is halved. Let them drop off as you remove the seed.
Of course, you could just peel (or not peel) your peach, then lean over the kitchen sink and take big juicy bites. Wash your hands afterwards. And your messy mouth.
Next time: Peach Cream Pie! Be sure to lay in a pie's worth of peaches (that would be six or eight) to be ready for it. The end of the season looms!