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

Pie Lady & Son in Upper Nyack, NY: A Tradition of Homemade Goodness

Pie Lady & Son, Upper Nyack, NY
Pie Lady & Son, Upper Nyack, NY

Few things in this world are as delicious and comforting as a homemade pie straight out of the oven.  There’s just something a magical about the aroma of buttery crust and warm, fruity filling floating in the air.  Something that feels like home.

Although it is rumored that pie has its origins in ancient Greece – in both sweet and savory form – the confection has long held an honored place on American tables.  Pie has been woven into our nation’s history, art, and literature.  Did you know that Mark Twain was not only a gifted writer but also a life-long pie aficionado?  One of his most famous characters, Huckleberry Finn, was named after Twain’s favorite dessert – huckleberry pie.  It’s even rumored that when the mood struck him Twain would consume half a pie for lunch and polish off the remaining half at dinner time.  Now that’s pie devotion!

Of course, pie doesn’t have to be a staple in your diet to enjoy a great slice.  If you’re anywhere near the Upper Nyack, NY area I would recommend stopping by a lovely little place called Pie Lady & Son.  Located on North Highland Avenue, the pale yellow building with red doors and shutters beckons to you from the grey roadway.  Although the shop is only a few years old, Deborah Tyler, aka the “Pie Lady of Nyack” has actually been in the business of baking pies since 1996.  She started out selling fresh, homemade pies from her back porch and she found that her pies were in such demand that she and her son Wil later worked together to open Pie Lady & Son.

As the name suggests, the specialty at Pie Lady & Son is fresh-from-the-oven pies which are available in three sizes – 5”, 7”, and 10”.  A rotating array of seasonal pie selections makes the shop a must-stop for Westchester, Rockland and Bergen visitors and residents.  (Sources tell us David Letterman had pie picked up for him on a weekly basis before the shop on 9W existed and Deborah operated out of her home in Nyack with a small hand-written street sign and an arrow pointing to the backdoor entrance.)  Their current list includes classics like apple, pumpkin, and pecan as well as options like apple pear walnut crumb and cherry walnut crumb.

All American apple pie!
All American apple pie!

Will, the son of the “Pie Lady” who helps her run the business, was generous enough to let me sample their apple pie. I’m pleased to report that it was as delicious as it looked.  The buttery crust had a nice, flaky exterior with a slightly doughier interior.  It was sprinkled liberally with sugar which complemented the tartness of the filling. The apples were fresh, well-spiced, and had just enough “crisp” to them.

Co-owner Will proudly displaying a pie
Co-owner Will proudly displaying a pie

When I asked Will what sets their pies apart, he answered, “What really makes us special is that we have stayed true to the ingredients that my mom has always used in her pies.  Nothing here comes from a box or a mix – everything is made from scratch using my mom’s recipes.  We use pure butter in our dough instead of shortening and only fresh fruit.  It’s all about doing things the old-fashioned way.”

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Pie case with blackboard offerings in background

Pie Lady & Son orders are completely booked for Thanksgiving but a limited number of pies will be available for purchase on Tuesday, the 26th and Wednesday, the 27th – first come first served!  Muffins and cookies are also available.

Shop Address

366 N. Highland Ave/Route 9W

Upper Nyack, NY

(845) 535-3290

Shop Hours

Monday through Saturday: 8am-7pm
Sunday: 9am-6pm

http://www.pielady.com/

Thanks to Kimberly Conner for writing this post.  (And eating plenty of pie for research purposes.)