Native to China, this fruit came to Europe via Persia, hence its ancient appellation Persian apple. In general, a peach falls into one of two classifications-freestone, in which case the stone or pit falls easily away from the flesh, and clingstone, where the fruit adheres stubbornly to the pit. It's the freestones that are more commonly found in markets, while the firmer-textured clingstones are widely used for commercial purposes.
Peaches ripen quickly by placing them in a box covered with newspaper. Gases are sealed in. Skins come off smoothly if peach is peeled with a potato peeler.
Remember when peaches had all that peach fuzz? Well, today peaches are defuzzed by a mechanical brushing process before shipment.
Peaches won't mature or get sweeter once picked.
Because of their fuzzy skins, peaches are often peeled before eating. This can be done easily by blanching the peach in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunging it into icy-cold water. Canned peaches are available, sliced or in halves, packed either in sugar syrup or water. Frozen peach slices are also available, as are dried peach halves. Peaches contain both vitamins A and C.
Ripen pears quickly by placing them in a brown paper bag along with a ripe apple. Place in a cool, shady spot and make certain a few holes are punched into the bag. The ripe apple will give off ethylene gas, which will stimulate the other fruit to ripen. This ripe apple trick will also work on peaches and tomatoes.)
Most of the vitamin C in pears is located in the skin.
Yellow pears are tart and sweet with a citrus-like acidity. They are delicious dipped in hummus or halved and served in salads.
Persimmons are available October through January. They have a smooth, shiny, bright orange skin, which is removed before eating or they will be sour. Persimmons are high in vitamins A and C plus potassium. Persimmons may be ripened overnight by wrapping them in tine foil and placing into the freezer. Persimmons must be thawed at room temperature and eaten the next day.
Persimmons are mild and sweet; nice acid-to-sugar balance. They are great diced and mixed with fruit for a simple salad.
Persimmons can be used in baked goods, puddings and other desserts, as well as eaten out of hand.
Pineapples are available year round. They are best, however, March through June. Buy as large and heave as available. Leaves at top should be deep green. Do not buy if they have soft spots. Refrigerate and use as soon as possible.
Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that causes gelatin not to set. Canned is best.
Studies have shown that the chemical bromelin in pineapple may help keep arteries clean.
To ripen a pineapple, cut off the top, remove the skin and slice. Place in a pot and cover with water, sweeten to taste and boil for five minutes. Cool and refrigerate.
Never use fresh pineapple in a gelatin mold or the protein will be broken down and the gelatin will not gel. This is caused by the chemical bromelain, a potent protein tenderizer.
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