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

Featured Recipe: Rubbed Kale with Butternut Squash

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On October 2 of this year, kale enthusiasts across the nation celebrated the first, albeit unofficial, “National Kale Day.”  Although jokesters have had a hearty guffaw about the Change.org petition currently making the social media rounds in an effort to elevate kale day to the level of official holiday, there’s actually a good reason for kale’s devoted fan base.  As far as super foods go, kale is king.  Packed with nutrients – protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and fiber, kale can help prevent a range of health conditions from type 2 diabetes to heart disease.

While kale is a fabulous addition to smoothies, soups and salads or in a simply stir fry with garlic and olive oil, here’s a delicious approach to enjoying this green powerhouse with sweet winter squash provided by Terry Paulding of Paulding & Co., a cooking school in Emeryville, CA.   The toothsome quality of kale paired with the luxurious creaminess of butternut squash makes this recipe a winner.  (While I left out the cilantro when I prepared it, the result was still delicious and full of flavor and an assertive punch.)  The bright orange squash against the intensely green leaves brought a beautiful color dimension to my table.  And with holiday fare often being neutral in flavor (and color), this dish is likely to succeed on a number of levels.

Yield: 12-15 servings

1 butternut squash, about 3 lbs. (also great with Red Kuri squash if you can find it, or kabocha squash, neither of which have to be peeled)

2 Tbs.  extra-virgin olive oil

salt & freshly ground pepper

1 bunch very fresh kale

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Sauce:

1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2  teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

salt to taste

2-3 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preparation: 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Top and tail the squash, halve it crosswise, put each piece flat-side down on the cutting board, and peel with a sharp chef’s knife. Remove the seeds with a spoon, and cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.  Place in a large bowl, toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and season lightly with salt & freshly ground pepper. Spread on a parchment-paper covered sheet pan. Roast 20-25 minutes, until the squash is tender and starting to brown.

While the squash roasts, strip the kale from it’s ribs (easy to do by just running your fingers along the rib on both sides, bottom to top), wash it well, and cut into fine ribbons. Mix with the olive oil in a large bowl, and rub and massage the kale until it softens, about 2 minutes.

Make the sauce by combining the ingredients in the food processor. Pulse to puree to a sauce consistency. Combine with the softened kale.

Toss the hot squash with the sauce and kale, and serve. One of the beauties of this dish is that it is still delicious served warm or cold and still wonderful the next day.

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Recipe provided by: 

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Founded by mother-daughter duo Terry and Tracy Paulding, Paulding & Co. specializes in creating innovative event ideas for families and corporate entities through public cooking classes and exercises.

Contact: 

Terry Paulding

terry@pauldingandco.com

1410 D 62nd Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

(510) 594-1104