Free The Stone: The Difference Between Clingstone and Freestone Peaches

I’m not sure about you but I count down the days to peach season each year. Something about these sweet, yet tart fruits just screams summertime. So at the first chance I get, I head over D’Amico’s Farm Stand in Closter, New Jersey and buy some fresh peaches. What I love about D’Amico’s is the fact that the owner of this 60-year family-run business, John D’Amico, only sources from small farms within a 200-mile radius of Closter. That means, most of his delicious, freshly picked fruits and vegetables come from south Jersey, which is at the heart of the Garden State. D’Amico’s has clingstone fruit until the summer reaches its apex of heat and then begins offering freestone. So, what’s the difference?

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Clingstone peaches from Southern Jersey at D’Amico’s farm stand in Closter, NJ

At first glance, there is no difference between a clingstone and freestone peach, both fuzzy and reddish-pink on the outside. On the inside, however, is where the difference lies. The best way to figure out if your peaches are clingstone or freestone is by slicing the peach down the middle and pulling it apart. If the pit falls out easily, it is freestone. If not, clingstone.

Clingstone peaches are those that when opened, the pit sticks to the pulpy flesh of the fruit. According to goodhousekeeping.com, these peaches are rarely sold in stores but are used mostly in canned fruit. Depending on the location of the peach farm, harvest season for clingstones can range from mid-May to early August. But use them as long as you can! Their large and juicy peach-ness can be used to make great jellies, jams, purees and fantastic summer dishes.

Freestone peaches, on the other hand, separate easily from the fruit. Although larger and less juicy in texture, they are still undeniably sweet. Again, depending on the grower, freestones can be harvested from mid-June to early October. Generally freestone peaches last later into the season than clingstone peaches. They are perfect for cooking because they slice easily and uniformly, making them well-suited to great pie recipes that will leave your guests’ mouths watering.

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One of the best things about summer is the availability of fresh peaches. So whether you enjoy peaches in purees or in pies, these yummy fruits are the perfect means for sweetening up your summer.

 

-Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Springerle Cookie Molds From House on the Hill – Valentine’s Day Just Got Sweeter

House on the Hill in Elmhurst, IL sells springerle cookie molds, well over 500 of them, along with baking and crafting supplies. This is the go-to resource for replicas of the beautiful embossing tools that date back to the 1700s. Designed for use specifically with springerle or gingerbread dough, these molds also work well in the service of cake decorating. Here’s a Valentine’s Day themed cupcake using pink fondant with the Double Rose mold ($34.50) from House on the Hill.

Pink fondant embossed with House on the Hill Double Rose mold
Pink fondant embossed with House on the Hill Double Rose mold

Any purchase over $35 comes with a handy little recipe book called “Too Pretty To Eat” in reference to the delicate, food-as-art feeling of springerle cookies. There are recipes for chocolate and peanut butter fondant, marzipan, which can easily be colored with food gels, also sold at House on the Hill, and of course, several variations of cookies in the springerle, gingerbread and short bread genres.

Cookies in another romance theme can easily be baked and stacked up in a clear container, presented with a bow and good wishes for a delightful Valentine’s gift. These cookies have use the Amo Te heart mold from House on the Hill, which retails for $26.50.

Amo Te Heart mold from House on the Hill used for creating springerle cookies.
Amo Te Heart mold from House on the Hill used for creating springerle cookies.

And here’s the same mold used with fondant to create a clever cupcake topper. The fondant can easily be adhere to the cupcake top with a dab of icing.

Amo Te Heart mold from House on the Hill used with pink fondant.
Amo Te Heart mold from House on the Hill used with pink fondant.

Bakerella, one of my favorite blogs, did a piece on cookie molds just about this time last year featuring these same molds from House on the Hill, even creating adorable cookie toppers by adhering the fondant embossings onto same shape sugar cookies.

With our below freezing weather in New Jersey, I am still in my gingerbread making mode. Here’s a platter of both gingerbread and springerle cookies using House on the Hill’s Baroque Owl mold, $25.50.

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House on the Hill molds can be purchased in selected gourmet retailers across the country. The largest selection though is available on the website, www.houseonthehill.net. Be sure to check the company’s News & Events page for workshops in Elmhurst, IL and around the country. Owner Connie Meisinger, a 4th generation springerle baker, travels to gourmet retailers to educate people about the magic of baking (and crafting) with her springerle molds. The website features a slow-paced, tip loaded video by the owner on preparing springerle dough and working with the molds.

To reach House on the Hill by phone, call 877-279-4455. To read Connie’s blog, click here.

Welcome to Redhead With A Fork!

Thank you for visiting Redhead With A Fork, a blog dedicated to adventures in eating, cooking, lifestyle and consumerism.  Here you’ll find musings about dining out, cooking, nifty products, noteworthy places and programs and other things I stumble upon that I’d like to share.  I am a mother of three, feeding two teenage girls and a 10 year old boy, all great eaters and very opinionated.  By (week)day I run the boutique public relations agency I founded, tending to clients in and beyond the Garden State.  But from the moment I enter my home in the early evening, I tie on an apron and (often wearily) plot and prepare dinner. With homework overseen from afar at my stove post, I, like millions of other mothers and fathers, wear multiple hats.  We have a core rotation of favorite dinner mainstays, which I’ll be sharing, and I often experiment with new recipes and twists on classics.

I cook simple preparations that are going to be enjoyed.  I aim for healthy and for the most part, succeed.  We are omnivores.  My older daughter Isabel is the most finicky of my kids, telling me she no longer eats chicken at dinner when she subsists on grilled chicken wraps for lunch.  Cooking for kids can be among life’s least rewarding experiences at times.  But on those occasions when everyone is happily eating around the table and the kids are getting along, I know that I am blessed and feel so appreciative of life, family and the dinner gathering.

Because my time is limited on evenings and weekends (homework, kids’ sports events, spending time with my kids, food shopping, yoga, dog walking and the occasional round of golf), I will focus here on things that I think and hope will be of value to you.  Things as mundane as good organizing tools for the kitchen or a nifty shortcut to a satisfying weeknight meal will be presented.

I welcome hearing from you.  If you wish to submit a review idea, please email me at heidi@redheadwithafork.com.  Thank you for reading this blog and sharing it with others you think may enjoy.

Love,

Heidi, Redhead With A Fork