Summer is unofficially here and I am so excited to see summer fruits and vegetables back at the farmer’s market.

Seeing peaches again reminds me of how last year I often found myself going a little overboard at the farmer’s market —  buying too many peaches.  When you buy a lot, they can get HEAVY.  I would put the peaches in the bottom compartment of the stroller in an effort to save my back and keep them from getting bruised.  In the craze of loading up the car (I’m a first-time mom), sometimes I forgot I put them down there.  I folded up the stroller, put it in the car, and drove away… and about half way home, I would remember “THE PEACHES!”.  Needless to say, I came home with a bag full of severely bruised peaches more than once.  And sometimes if  we didn’t get around to eating all the peaches, by the time midweek rolled around, I had a lot of very ripe peaches.

So what’s my solution?  Buy less?  NO!  That’s not very creative.  I make peach cubes!!  I puree and freeze the peaches in ice trays.  This works great with other fruits as well.  Blueberries, in particular – especially if you buy the bargain day old blueberries that are no longer in perfect condition.

“Puree and freeze” is a trick I learned from making baby food but I quickly learned that it had many other great uses.  For instance, with peaches you can make peach-sicles; use them as a base for a summertime smoothie; use them as a syrup/topping for pancakes, cakes, or oatmeal; or even use them as a replacement for brandy or cognac in a recipe (sounds strange, I know, but it worked great for me in a pinch).  My favorite way is simply to put a couple cubes in my plain yogurt or kefir.  This is a great way to make your own flavored yogurt.  It beats buying the flavored yogurts that are high in sugar.  And, if you are in a hurry, it’s also a lot easier to throw a few cubes in your yogurt than to slice up a peach before heading out the door.

I tend to bake my peaches.  Baking brings out a slightly warmer, sweeter taste plus it allows me to infuse them with some flavors.  Of course, I often just puree them uncooked as well.  In either case, there is no need to add any sugar but feel free to add spices such as cinnamon, anise, or ginger for a welcome twist.  I love the ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla recipe below.

Ginger, Cinnamon, & Vanilla Infused Peach Puree

8 peaches, pitted and halved

1 cinnamon stick

1 inch fresh ginger, chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ – 1 inch water

Directions:

1.     Preheat oven to 400F.

2.     Mix the cinnamon stick, ginger, vanilla and water in a glass baking dish.  Stir gently.

3.     Place peach halves skin side up in the glass dish.

4.     Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tender.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5.     Scoop up peach halves and place in food processor or blender. Reserve infused water.  Puree until you reach desired consistency, adding a little bit of infused water, as necessary.  (Note:  You may want to add some but not all of the chopped ginger to your puree.  Be careful not to add too much.  The ginger has a sharp bite that may overpower the other flavors.  Personally, I like the soft subtle flavor that the infused water gives.)  Serve as suggested above.   Or to store:

6.     Fill an ice tray with the puree and place in the freezer.  Freeze overnight.

7.     Empty ice tray into a re-sealable bag, label, and store in freezer.

Makes one ice tray.
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Peach Cubes

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