One of mainland Europe's most delicious fruits - said to have originated from China, but introduced to Europe (via Iran) over 2,000 years ago. There is quite an art to choosing the best peach. Choose fragrant fruits which are yellow round the stem: bloom is not necessarily a sign of ripeness. Feel them gently too, they should give slightly to gentle pressure. Harder, unripe fruits will usually ripen with time. Soft peaches lack flavour and are often cotton-woolly in texture. Dried sweetened peaches and canned peaches in syrup are also available. You'll find this delicious fruit available from May to September.
Uses: Fresh fruit salads and desserts. Dried peaches can be eaten as a snack or included in fruit compotes, fools and bakes. Canned peaches can be used in trifles, bakes or eaten with ice cream or cream.
To store: Keep peaches at room temperature until ripe and then use within 1-2 days. Store dried peaches in a cool, dry place. Once opened reseal the pack and store in the fridge for up to 7 days.
To prepare: Wash the peach, cut round the natural line of the fruit, then gently twist the two halves in opposite directions. Remove the stone. The flesh can then be sliced or chopped. If the fruit is not to be eaten immediately, brush the exposed halves with lemon juice to prevent discolouration.
To skin: Cover with boiling water for just 10 seconds if ripe, up to 30 seconds if unripe, then plunge momentarily into cold water before pulling off the skin.