“Do I dare to eat a peach?” The question T.S. Eliot poses in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is one I often ask myself. With a peach there’s always a risk: Will it be a luscious, nectar-filled soft bite of pure summer, or will it be a bitter, sad parody of hope and expectation?
This week, picking up a peach at one of NYC’s farmers’ markets is a dare well worth taking. Every variety is ripe and perfect. From fat squat donuts, to glorious blush-colored whites. Just smell one. Lightly touch the soft fuzz of skin and feel the flesh gently give, and you know you’re in for one of the quintessential great treats of summer.
“We’ve had them a couple of weeks, and at this point, they’re just about perfect,” says John Donahue of John Middleton Farms.
“Personally, I can’t help just eating them straight away, but if you want to buy some today to eat over the week, then you can find a firmer one, and control how quickly it ripens. If you want it to ripen fast, leave it in a paper bag on the window sill. The gas it lets off stays in the bag, and that speeds up the ripening. You want it to ripen up slower? Then just leave it on the counter,” Donahue advises.
The best news? “Most of what we have is ready to eat right now,” Donahue adds.
It’s hard to beat a fresh peach, just the way it is, but when there’s a glut, and when you’re ready to diversify, here are a few ideas: