Juicy, sweet sun-kissed peaches are one of South Carolina’s signature crops. They have been abundant this season at area farmers’ markets – and taste sweeter than they have in years. It’s no wonder that South Carolina is known as “The Tastier Peach State.” Read on for more facts about our tasty Carolina peaches and for a couple of peachy recipes, Grilled Chicken and Peach Kabobs and Cantaloupe and Peach Preserves. There are additional photos of new products available at the Sandhill Farmers’ Market in Northeast Columbia.
Did you know that there are two kinds of peaches in South Carolina – yellow peaches and white peaches. Yellow peaches become more yellow in the sun while white peaches become more white. Both types are delicious! Freestone peaches are readily available now – their juicy soft flesh is easily separated from the pit.
Yesterday in Chapin, I saw baskets of beautiful peaches piled high at a small roadside stand when I attended the Labor Day parade. Peaches are still plentiful in the Columbia area. Search for tasty peaches at your local farmer’s markets, often piled high next to the seasonal butterbeans and muscadine grapes.
The peaches below are from Martin Farm at the Sandhill Farmers’ Market. Don’t dally if you still want to enjoy a taste this year. The season ends in late September. A delicious way to use Carolina peaches is by preparing Grilled Chicken and Peach Kabobs. This new recipe comes from the National Chicken Council/U.S. Poultry & Egg Associations.
I’ve also shared a luscious recipe for Cantaloupe and Peach Preserves that I developed for my article, Preserving the Taste of Summer. It appears in the September issue of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine. The outstanding produce I used for testing this recipe came from various farmers at the Sandhill market. The cantaloupes smelled and tasted like pure nectar; the peaches like a little taste of heaven!
I also included photos of other outstanding products being sold at the Sandhill market. Jeff Dowdy, The Shrimp Guy LLC, comes from the Chapin area and has begun selling fresh wild caught, Certified S.C. shrimp. We purchased a pound last week and they were outstanding. I would suggest buying a few pounds for the freezer.
We are also lucky to have Sweet Southern Kettle Korn (the best kettle corn ever made) from the Chapin area. Heather Digdon’s amazing breads are always available and she is now selling fragrant blueberry scones.
Don’t forget to try the super fresh butter beans from J.Mac Farms. I did a longer post, with recipes, on their wonderful butter peas last week. Troy Porter of J. Mac Farms says be sure to wash and pick through the butter beans/peas carefully because the seeds of a wild weed called the “coffee plant” might get mixed up with them during harvest. The plant will really mess up the taste of your cooked vegetable. J.Mac Farms also carries corn, okra, tomatoes and other produce. You can find fresh butterbeans from other farmers as well, such as Alan’s Market. Other types of shelled beans are soon coming into season. I will share more information in another post.
Don’t overlook farmers like Asya’s Organics Farms for top-notch Certified Organic Produce and Evan’s Produce for watermelons and cantaloupes. For a sweet taste, visit Susi Toffi for the best English Toffee ever. The farmers and producers will be on hand Tuesdays, beginning at 2:30 PM. The Richland Master Gardeners are always on hand to answer all your gardening questions.
Finally, here’s the photo of a batch of Spicy Tomato Preserves I had just made for a weekend summer brunch. The ruby red, ripe tomatoes came from at Livingston Farms at Sandhill market. They will have plenty more tomatoes this month. This recipe also appears in the September issue of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine. Good eats, ya’ll!
Grilled Chicken and Peach Kabobs
Here is an easy and delicious blend of some the best flavors from the farmers market. Thread chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast halves onto skewers, interspersed with chunks of zucchini, peaches and mushrooms. Marinate in a mixture of olive oil, mustard, vinegar, thyme and orange zest before grilling. See recipe above.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch rounds
16 cremini mushrooms (or button mushrooms, as desired)
3 ripe peaches, cut into eighths (may use frozen if fresh not available)
8 wooden or metal skewers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup coarse grainy mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon orange zest
If using wooden skewers, place in water and soak for at least one hour.
Cut chicken into 1-inch dice. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper, and zest. Slowly whisk in olive oil to combine.
Thread chicken, zucchini rounds, mushrooms, and peach slices onto skewers, alternating ingredients. Be sure to leave enough space at bottom of skewer to hold and turn.
Place skewers in a single layer on a sheet pan or baking dish and pour marinade over, turning skewers to distribute marinade. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate. Marinate, turning skewers occasionally, for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Heat grill on high heat. Place skewers on grill and cook, turning, for about 10 minutes. Serve over rice. Serves 4.
Nutrition Information, Per Serving:
290 calories; 8 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 16 g carbohydrate; 12 g sugars; 38 g protein
Cantaloupe and Peach Preserves
5 cups small-diced cantaloupe pieces
5 cups peeled, small-diced fresh peaches, (7 or 8)
5 cups granulated sugar
2 medium lemons (for grated zest and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped, lightly toasted pecans or blanched almonds (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur or brandy (optional)
Sterilize 10 half-pint preserving jars; set aside. In a heavy Dutch oven or 4-quart heavy pot, mix cut fruit (about 4 pounds) with sugar and lemon zest and juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. Add nutmeg and continue cooking 15 minutes or until mixture is thick and jammy. Stir in toasted nuts and liqueur, if desired. Ladle hot preserves into half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims. Seal with clean lids and rims, according to manufacturer’s directions. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool completely before storing. Makes 10 half-pint jars.
Storage Variation: Omit boiling water bath. Cool preserves in jars, then store in the refrigerator several weeks.
Recipe C. Susan Fuller Slack, “Preserving the Taste of Summer”, Columbia Metropolitan Magazine
Here is a tip that will work well for peeling Clingstone Peaches, the first of the summer. Blanch or submerge the peaches in boiling water for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge them into cold water for another minute or two to cool. The skins will be easier to peel off after their hot water bath. Three medium peaches (or two large) yield about 4 cups sliced peaches.
Peach Smoothie, To make this refreshing, nutritious drink, combine in a blender: cubes of one peeled, pitted fresh peach, cubes of 1 small peeled, frozen banana, 1/2 cup cold orange juice, 1 cup peach or vanilla yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract. Blend until smooth. (Add a little more orange juice, if needed, for blending.) Pour smoothie into a chilled glass and decorate with a fresh mint sprig.
Grilled Chicken and Peach Kabob photo from the National Chicken Council/U.S. Poultry & Egg Associations.
Photo of Jeff Dowdy by Judith Gaskins.
Remaining photos C. by Susan Fuller Slack