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

Finding Your Zen Anytime, Anywhere

Living in the suburbs, nothing makes me happier than falling asleep to the sound of crickets outside my window. The summer sounds of birds chirping and rain falling on the roof bring peace and a sense of oneness with nature that is unique to the summer season. These relaxing sounds are soothing any time of day and I am sharing some useful apps that deliver that relaxation in the most unlikely places, thanks to the convenience of technology.  I have found that great meditation and noise simulator apps can help me achieve the same level of relaxation whether I’m commuting to work or at the office in need of a 10-minute psychic refuel.

 

Relax Melodies

Relax melodies is one of my favorite apps to listen to when I am trying to unwind after a long day. It contains a large library full of relaxing sounds to help you fall asleep at night and meditation guides to help you regain clarity after a frazzling day with kids and work. This is the largest library I have ever seen in an app. If you find raucous traffic soothing, they have it. If the sound of the planet Jupiter relaxes you? They have it!

What is so unique about this app is that you can really tailor every sound bite to your personal preferences. You can adjust the volume of each piece so the next time you open it up the settings are automatically to your liking, as well as combine multiple sound bites that make the experience extremely personal. You can set the noise on a timer so the app will automatically close after a certain period of time so you need not worry about wasting battery while you sleep.

It is not necessary to pay the $9.99 for access to the full library but if you do, you will not regret it. The app is compatible with smartphones and Apple Watch so you can use it on-the-go.

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Headspace

If you are trying meditation out for the first time, Headspace is a free app to consider. Headspace, a guided meditation and mindfulness app makes meditation simple. The opening menu provides an array of meditation guides focusing on health, relationships, performance, foundation etc. Each session lasts around 10 minutes and you can track your progress to keep you on the path to relaxation.

And if you find yourself on the verge of a mini-meltdown — because everybody gets them — the app has an “SOS” feature that can help you calm down, rationalize the situation and provide clarity.

I would recommend this to any parent trying to maintain some semblance of sanity during the day and teens who sometimes need that reassurance that they can do whatever they put their minds to.

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In my opinion, there is no reason why summer relaxation levels can not be achieved any time of year in any location. Check out these apps to keep deep relaxation within reach and part of your daily restoration regimen.

 

-Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Bibi’z Debuts Summer Craft Cocktails: “Good Karma” Margarita and Pineapple Vodka Lemonade

Ida Martin, Bibi'z Restaurant and Lounge, Westwood, NJ - sexy summer cocktails which beat the heat
Ida Martin, Bibi’z Restaurant and Lounge, Westwood, NJ – sexy summer cocktails which beat the heat

Summer is nearly here and what better way to cool down than an icy cold, fruity, refreshing cocktail? Bibi’z Restaurant and Lounge invited us in to try two new summer cocktails that scored high in terms of taste, refresh-factor and smoothness. This restaurant continues to stick to its tradition of unusual, thoughtfully-crafted dishes and cocktails, emphasizing local, seasonal fare.

Ida Martin, founder of Bibi’z, gave us a demonstration of the new cocktails recently. Her new margarita, Good Karma, is a subtle combination of refreshing orange slices which is complemented by fresh basil leaves. Ida slightly muddles up the two ingredients before adding a touch of Karma tequila, a splash of lime juice as well as a splash of triple sec topped off with sour soda. After shaking everything up, Ida adds a final touch of orange juice. This colorful drink is a delicious concoction with a lovely balance of flavor and subtle sweetness.

Ida also introduced us to her revisited Summer Lemonade made with pineapple vodka and an infusion of watermelon and cucumber. The drink consists, on one hand,  of a splash of sour soda, a fair amount of lemonade, topped with pineapple vodka. Ida then muddles up on the side the watermelon and the cucumber before adding the mix to the rest of the drink along with ice. The cocktail is a surprising marriage of flavors that together are the tastes of summer with a little bite. This elegant cocktail keeps its promise of offering a refreshing delight.

It always seems to be happy hour at Bibi’z – although it’s officially offered six days a week from 3.00PM to 6.30PM. But these cocktails are recommended equally for a relaxing brunch, lunch or dinner as they offer sexy sipping that is equal parts summer and refreshing.

Bibi’z Restaurant | Lounge

Tue-Thu 12p-10p
Fri-Sat  12p-11p (Bar until 12a)
Sun Brunch 11a-3p | Dinner 3p-9p
284 Center Avenue
Westwood, New Jersey 07675
201.722.8600
events@bibizlounge.com

Jersey Peaches

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Here in New Jersey, peach season is starting and ends in middle or late August. I eagerly await the summer stone fruit season each year, anticipating juicy fruit, bubbling pies, sweet smoothies and the simple beauty of a white bowl filled with peaches, nectarines, plums and other stone fruits. Peaches are quite hard to grow in New Jersey because of the humidity that envelopes the Garden State in the core summer months. Jerome Frecon, stone fruit expert with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, spoke with me recently about the ins and outs of peaches.

Jerry Frecon
Jerry Frecon

RWAF: I have been hearing from local farmers that this season has been challenging with the intense heat and incessant rain, creating rampant mold and fungus in crops. Is this the case for peach crops?

Jerome Frecon: The temperatures we are experiencing are great for peaches particularly if accompanied by sunshine. Sunlight causes photosynthesis and produces carbohydrates. namely sugar. The more sun the more sugar producing sweet peaches. Of course the heat causes fruit to ripen quicker, makes it more uncomfortable to pick fruit and hurts U=pick businesses. We have been able to manage the excessive moisture. Yes, it increases disease pressure but not nearly as bad as for crop growing just above the ground as annuals (vegetables). Peach season has not really started yet as of July 1, 2013.

RWAF: Roughly how many varieties of peaches does NJ grow and what are the leading varieties?

JF: We easily grow 100 varieties of yellow fleshed peaches and nectarines. Because we have not done tree fruit surveys since 1999 it is hard to tell. They are probably yellow fleshed varieties peaches that make up 85% of our production. My guess in order of ripening would be Desiree, Sentry, Glenglo, GaLa, Johnboy, Flamin Fury PF 17, Flamin Fury PF 24-007, Gloria, Messina and Flamin Fury PF 28-007. Varietal names are seldom used because there are so many and most people don’t remember them. How the peaches are picked and handled is much more important than the variety name.

RWAF: Is NJ the leading grower of peaches in the northeast?

JF: Yes, in the northeastern United Sates and 4th in the US.

RWAF: If visiting a pick-your-own, what are the best things to look for?

JF: We have very few U-Pick peach operations in NJ. The problem is the very hot weather during the ripening season. We all sweat and they are fuzzy making most uncomfortable. Picking apples and pears in the fall is much more fun and at a time of the year when it is cooler.

RWAF: What are the best ways to store peaches?

JF: When you get the peaches let them get ripe until almost soft at room temperature. Then if you want to keep them a little longer put them in the storage. Never put peaches in the refrigerator before they are ripe. Most run about 40 F and injure the fruit. If you have a 32F like growers and packer it is much better.

If you have a hankering to pick peaches in Northern New Jersey, check out local pick-your-own peach farm Demarest Farms. The farm also offers peaches by the quart and peck. At the time of writing this post, peaches were available at Demarest Farms for $9.00 a bag. 

Demarest Farms: When: Mon-Sun, 8AM-7PM
Where: 244 Wierimus RD, Hillsdale, NJ 07642

 

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Assortment of Peaches

                                                                                      

Peach facts:

  • Peaches can help calm a sour stomach and they are great for digestion
  • Peaches are a great moisturizer
  • Peaches can reduce hair loss
  • August is National Peach Month in the USA
  • Georgia is known as the peach state
  • California produces 50% of all peaches in the USA
  • Peaches can also be used as an aphrodisiac

 

Carored peaches on limb, a Jersey favorite.
Carored peaches on limb, a Jersey favorite.

2013 New Jersey ‘Peach Parties’ & Other Events Celebrating Jersey Peaches

Bergen County Sundays
July Fort Lee Farmers Market
Peach Festival
1355 Inwood Terrace,Fort Lee
http://www.fortleenj.org

Kids activities, peach and peach-product tastings, recipe & handling brochures, & more
Atlantic County July 18
Thurs Margate Farmers Market
Peach Party…Peach Pie contest judging site
9700 Amherst Ave (Steve & Cookies by the Bay)
http://www.steveandcookies.com
Peach Pie contest judging
Peach Queen appearance (tentative)
kids quiz & other activities, peach tastings & ratings,
recipe & handling brochures

Mercer County July 20 West Windsor Farmers Market
Peach Party
Southbound Vaughn Drive parking lot, Princeton Junction train station off of Alexander Rd.
http://www.westwindsorfarmersmarket.org
NJ Peach Queen, “little chefs” cooking demonstration, entertainment by American Century, recipe & handling brochures, and more

Hudson County July 21 Riverview Farmers Market, Jersey City Heights
Peach Day…Peach Pie contest judging site
Riverview-Fisk Park, Ogden Ave (Griffith & Bowers)
http://riverviewneighborhood.org
Perfect Peach Pie contest judging by Mory Thomas, director of Culinary Development at the Food Network
peachy event with live music and kids programs

Somerset County July 23-28 Gladstone Tavern, Gladstone
Jersey Peach Week
273 Main St Gladstone
http://www.gladstonetavern.com
Menu offers Jersey peaches in all dishes, from appetizer and soup to main course, salad and dessert. Peaches are from Melick’s Farm, Oldwick
Reservations recommended, 908-234-9055 or via website

Gloucester County July 25-28 Mullica Hill, Gloucester Co 4-H Fair
NJ Peach Festival, Peach Pie contest judging site
275 Bridgeton Pike (Rte 77 S), Mullica Hill
http://gloucester.njaes.rutgers.edu/fairfest
Peach Pie judging by Chef Jim Malaby, blueplate restaurant, July 26
Growers’ competition for the “Best Peaches”
July 26-Crowning of “Peach Queens,” in 5 competition categories in ages 5-18

Camden County July 27 Haddonfield Farmers Market
Peach Party
230 W. Redman Ave, Haddonfield
http://www.haddonfieldfarmersmarket.org
Live music, children’s activities & of course peaches!!!..and more

Somerset County July 27 Montgomery Farmers Market
Peach Party
Village Shopper Parking Lot, 1340 Rt. 206
http://www.montgomeryfriends.org
“Pin the Stem on the Peach” game, other kids’ games, stories, tastings & more

Hopewell, Mercer County late July-August
Wed, Thurs, Fri The Brothers Moon Restaurant,
Peach Time at The Brothers Moon
7 W. Broad St., Hopewell
http://www.brothersmoon.com
Chef Will is passionate about the beauty and taste of Jersey Peaches celebrates them with 3 & 4-course menus priced from $33-$47, featuring a variety of appetizers, soups, main courses, salads and desserts—all with peaches. Recipes will be available, by emailing chefwill@brothersmoon.com
Reservations recommended 609-333-1330 or via website

Somerset County Aug 2, 3, 4 Grain House Restaurant, Basking Ridge
Peach Menus
225 Route 202, Basking Ridge
http://www.oldemillin.com/grainhouse
Prix-fixe 3-course peach menu @ $
Menu of peach dishes. Reservations recommended
908-696 2335 or via website

Camden County August 3 Collingswood Farmers Market
“Just Peachy” Party, Peach Pie contest judging site
Between Collings & Irvin Aves. Along Patco
http://www.collingswoodmarket.com
Peach Pie judging by Chef Mark Smith,
Tortilla Press
peach tastings & giveaways by Schober Orchards,, cooking demonstrations, kick-off for “Just Peachy” restaurant promotions the following week.

Morris County August 3 Chatham Borough Farmers Market
Peach Party
Chatham Train Station, Chatham
http://www.chathamboroughfarmersmarket.com
Melick Farms peach tastings, Peach Princess and Peach Queen crowned, peach costume character, peach cooking demos

Hunterdon County August 3 Community Presbyterian Church, Chester
Peach Festival & Country Auction
220 Main St, Chester
http://www.cpcchester.org
Peach pies, peach kuchens, peach cobbler, homemade peach ice cream, more peach homemade goodies, jams, jellies, and relishes . Country Auction begins @ 10 am. Call 908-879-5091 for further information.

Warren County August 3 Tree-Licious Orchards, Port Murray
Peach Party, Farm-to-Table Dinner
135 Karrville Road, Port Murray
http://www.treeliciousorchards.com
Farm-to-Table Peach dinner, pick-your-own peaches, children’s activities, music, Carol’s peach cobbler for dessert.

Mercer County August 3-4 Terhune Orchards, Princeton
“Everything Peach” Festival & canning workshop
Peach Pie contest judging site Aug 4
330 Cold Soil Rd, Princeton Twp
http://www.terhuneorchards.com
Aug 4- Peach Pie contest judging by area chef
Aug 3, 10 AM–Workshop by Pam Mount on canning and preserving peaches.
Children’s games, music and lots of tasty peach treats – muffins, pie, tea, ice cream. In the farm store, try our peach salsa, peach cobbler! Adults head to the tasting room for our award winning Just Peachy wine and summer peach sangria.

Morris County August 3-4 Alstede Farms, Chester
Peach Festival
84 Route 513 (Old Route 24), Chester
GPS Address: 1 Chesterfield Dr, Chester, NJ 07930
http://www.alstedefarms.com
Pick Your Own Peaches, our own Homemade Peach Ice Cream, Peach Slushies, Peach Pies and other Peach desserts and a Peach Breakfast Sunday morning 8 to 12:30.

Essex County August 4 Nutley Farmers Market
Peach Party
http://www.nutleynj.org/greenutley
tastings, give-aways, entertainment, recipe & handling brochures, and more

Camden County August 6-8 Collingswood Area Restaurants
Just Peachy 3-course all-peach menus
http://www.sjculinaryevents.com
Tortilla Press, Blue Plate, El Sitio, Collingswood Blackbird/West Side Gravy. Reservations recommended. via website

Gloucester County August
6- 10 bluplate Restaurant & Holtzhauser Orchards
Peach Week Celebrating Peaches
7 S Main St Mullica Hill
http://www.blueplatenj.com
3-course meal featuring Holtzhauser peaches @$25.00. Learn many uses of Jersey peaches, from the trees to the stove.
reservations recommended 856-478-2112 or via website

Middlesex County August 7 Woodbridge Farmers Market
Peach Party, Peach Pie contest judging site
1 Main St, Woodbridge
http://www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us
Peach Pie contest judging by area chef
Kids activities, tastings, tie-in with local restaurant

Morris County August 10 Boonton Farmers Market, Boonton
Peach Festival
http://www.boontonfarmersmarket.org
http://www.BoontonMainStreet.org
Peach samplings, kids’ activities, recipe & handling brochures, used book sale, special give-aways.

Middlesex County August 10 Jamesburg Farmers Market
Peach Party
Veterans’ Park, Jamesburg
http://www.ilovejamesburg.com
Kids activities, peach and peach-product tastings, much more

Essex County August 10 Montclair Farmers Market
Peach Party
Walnut Street Train Station parking lot
http://www.montclairnjusa.org
tastings; kids quiz, games, recipe & handling brochures,

Bergen County August 11 Ramsey Farmers Market
Peach Festival, Peach Pie contest judging site
Erie Plaza Train Station
http://www.ramseyfarmersmarket.org
Peach Pie contest judging by Chef Michael Volpe.
Everything “peachy,” fresh peaches, peach pies, jams, lemonades, ice teas, artisanal peach ice pops, and more

Hunterdon County August 11 Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market, Trenton
Peach Party, Peach Pie contest judging site
Dvoor Farm Rt 12 Circle, Flemington
www. hunterdonlandtrust.org/farmers-market Peach Pie judging by Chef/owner Leslie McEachem, Angelica Kitchen, NYC
Peach pies and other goodies, hand crafts in a country-fair atmosphere.

Essex County August 12 Maplewood Farmers Market
Peach Party
160 Indiana St, Maplewood
http://www.twp.maplewood.nj.us
“Peachy” activities, tastings, recipe & handling brochures, and more

Camden County August 14 Westmont Farmers Market
Peach Party, Peach Pie contest judging site
43 Haddon Ave, Haddon Township
http://www.westmontfarmersmarket.com
Peach Pie judging by area chef
Peach Glitter Tattoos, Peach Face Painting, Bobbing for peaches, Peach cooking contest , Guess how many peaches in the bushel to win the bushel, Peachey Free Balloons

Burlington County August 17 Burlington Farmers Market, Moorestown
Peach Party
500 Centerton Rd, Moorestown
http://www.burlcoagcenter.com
Plenty of peaches, recipe & handling brochures, and more

Atlantic County August 17 Hammonton Downtown Market
Peach Party
209 Vine St parking Lot (across from Eagle Theatre)
http://www.downtownmarket.org
2013 Peach Queen will meet her court—past Hammonton Peach Queens! Peach Recipe contest, tastings, music, giveaways sponsored by Pastore Orchards

Mercer County August 17 Trenton Farmers Market, Lawrence Twp
Peach Day
960 Spruce Street,Lawrence Twp.
/www.thetrentonfarmersmarket.com Peach tastings, giveaways & drawings, Peach Queen (tentative), music, much more.

Somerset County mid-August Grain House Restaurant, Basking Ridge
Peach Menus
225 Route 202, Basking Ridge
http://www.oldemillin.com/grainhouse
Menu of peach dishes. Reservations recommended
908-696 2335 or via website

Julian DeZao, RWAF Research Associate, contributed to this post.