They’re naturally sweet, yet surprisingly low in sugar, and they work a treat in both sweet and savoury dishes. Check out these peachy ideas…
1. Barbecue pud
As the embers die down on the barbecue, wrap peach halves in individual foil parcels with a drizzle of fresh orange juice, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a spoonful of reduced-fat crème fraîche. Nestle in the coals and cook until the peaches are hot and the juices syrupy.
2. Fruity roast pork
Slice lengthways along a lean pork tenderloin to make a pocket. Fill with chopped peaches, spring onions, pine nuts and fresh herbs. Tie up with string, put in a roasting tin, then roast in the oven, adding extra peach wedges to the tin for the last 15 min of the cooking time.
3. Homemade jam
Put 500g peeled and chopped peaches in a large pan with 250g caster sugar. Simmer over a medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the peaches soften. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Stir in 125g liquid pectin and 3tbsp lemon juice, then pour the jam into sterilised jars. It will keep in the fridge for 2–3 weeks.
4. Fruity couscous salad
Stir up a main meal salad with prepared couscous, drained tinned chickpeas in water, chopped peaches, cooked chicken, unsalted pistachios, red onion and fresh mint and parsley.
5 Speedy frozen yogurt
Keep a bag of chopped peaches in the freezer ready to whiz up a low-fat dessert in seconds. Blend the frozen fruit in a food processor, then, with the motor still running, slowly pour in low-fat natural yogurt until thick and semi-frozen. Sweeten with a little runny honey, if you like.
6. Baked meringues
Whisk 2 egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add 100g caster sugar, whisking until stiff peaks form. Fold through 1 peeled, crushed peach. Grease 4 x 150ml ramekins and coat with caster sugar, then divide the meringue mixture among them. Bake at 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4 for 20 min or until risen and golden. Meanwhile, make a coulis by blending 2 ripe peaches with 1tbsp icing sugar and 1tbsp lemon juice. Serve the puddings drizzled with the coulis.
7. Italian-style ham salad
For a twist on the classic combination of Parma ham and melon, serve slices of peach with ruffles of Parma ham, baby spinach, toasted walnuts, crumbled goat’s cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
8. Buttermilk pancakes
These aren’t as naughty as you might think, as buttermilk is low in fat. Whisk together 100g plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, ½tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 eggs and 284ml buttermilk. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with a little oil and set over a medium heat. Drop in spoonfuls of the batter and cook, turning once, until golden. Serve with sliced peaches and a drizzle of maple syrup as a breakfast treat or summer pud.
9. Lighter tiramisu
In a large serving dish or individual glasses, layer coffee-soaked sponge fingers with sliced peaches and reduced-fat mascarpone mixed with low-fat passionfruit yogurt. Sprinkle with a little grated dark chocolate to serve.
10. Sweet and spice pudding
Put peach wedges in a shallow pan with some chopped stem ginger and a drizzle of syrup from the jar. Pour over a little white wine, then simmer for 5 min or until the peaches soften. Serve warm or cold topped with low-fat custard and a sprinkle of crumbled amaretti biscuits.
What’s so great about peaches?
Peaches, like other fruit, are low in fat and calories – a typical peach contains around 50kcal and, despite tasting deliciously sweet, contributes just a tenth of the maximum amount of sugar we should have each day. Better still, they’re high in vitamin C and contain flavonoid compounds called phenols. In one lab study, Texan scientists found the naturally occurring phenolic compounds in stoned fruits such as peaches had anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties – and also reduced the oxidation of bad (or LDL) cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease.