On many roads around the country, summer travel means encountering a succession of rough, hand-painted signs, designed to persuade travelers off the road and into the bountiful world of a curb-side produce stand. In South Carolina, where I live, offerings of local peaches, tomatoes, and melons makes stopping nearly impossible to resist. Chances are, you face similar enticements in your neighborhood, too. If you're lucky enough to live near a produce stand, you can get there early, before the roads get busy and while the stalls are still full. You'll need little else besides the delicious fruit from one of these stands to make luscious fresh peach sorbet, or a cooling watermelon granita, both remarkably easy and bursting with the bright taste of summer. While sorbets and granitas are both made with pured fruit and simple (sugar) syrup, their primary difference lies in their texture. Sorbet, churned in an ice cream maker with a relatively high proportion of sugar, is smooth, while granita, made with no special equipment and less sugar, is icy and granular. If you like the taste of fruit and the feeling of smooth, fruit sherbets, made with some milk are divine in summer, especially those with complex flavors, such as lemon mixed with lavender. (Look for recipes for Lemon-Lavender Sherbet and Candied Lemon Peel Strips in next week's column.) This year's peaches are better than they've been in years, and sweeter, too, I think. So, if you see a sign by the side of the road that beckons, "stop," do it. The end of the peach road, and other roads, come quickly, and sometimes there's just no turning back.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 pounds peaches (about 8 medium peaches), skinned and pureed (directions follow), chilled
2 cups simple syrup, chilled (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
Combine peach puree, syrup, lemon juice, and extract, then pour mixture into the cylinder of an ice cream maker. Follow manufacturer's directions for making ice cream, then transfer mixture to a freezer-proof container; freeze for 2 to 4 hours, or until mixture is firm. Best used within a day or two of making. If sorbet hardens too much to scoop easily, allow it to soften to desired consistency outside of the freezer before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
*Kitchen Ade Note: May substitute peach puree with an equal amount of pureed nectarines or mangoes, or a combination of the two.
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Place water and corn syrup in a small saucepan with sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and cool, then pour syrup into a clean glass jar with a lid. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 1/4 cups.
4 cups seeded, fresh watermelon chunks, chilled
1/3 cup simple coconut syrup (recipe follows), or simple syrup (see Simple Syrup recipe for Fresh Peach Sorbet), chilled
1 tablespoon grenadine syrup*
Juice and grated zest of 1 small lime
Place watermelon, syrups, and juice and zest of one lime in the container of a blender and process until watermelon is slushy. Transfer mixture to a shallow metal pan and place in the freezer. After 45 minutes, use a fork to stir the frozen edges of the mixture into the center of the pan. Return pan to freezer and repeat the process once an hour for about 4 hours, breaking up any large chunks of ice with a fork. Continue to freeze until mixture is firm enough to scoop into chilled serving dishes. Granita is best eaten the same day it is made. Makes about 3 cups.
*Kitchen Ade Note: Find grenadine syrup in a liquor store, or in the beverage aisle of your supermarket.
Water from 2 fresh coconuts, strained, plus plain water to equal 2 cups.
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon coconut extract
Place coconut water, water, and corn syrup into a small saucepan with sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and stir in extract. Cool syrup, then pour into a clean glass jar with a lid. Store, covered, in refrigerator, for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 1/4 cups syrup.
Wash peaches, then pat dry. Remove any remaning pieces of stem.
Cut an "x" in the upper portion of the peach skin.
Submerge peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, or until skin wrinkles and separates around the "x." (Not quite ripe peaches may take longer. Also, be sure there is enough boiling water in the pot to completely cover the peaches.)
Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge peach into ice water.
Peel skin from the peach, from top to bottom; the skin should easily peel away. Peel any remaining pieces of skin with a paring knife.
Remove flesh from around the pit, and puree flesh in a food processor or blender.
8 medium peaches (about 2 pounds) will make about 4 cups puree.
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