Peaches are classified as clingstone or freestone based on how easy it is to dislodge the pit from the flesh. Most fresh peaches are freestones. The fruits also come in two main colors: white and yellow.
In Season: Peaches are in season during July and August.
What to Look For: Choose fruit with a fragrant aroma and flesh that yields a bit when pressed gently. If a peach has cuts or tan spots, or if it's rock-hard or mushy, don't buy it. Peaches that are tinged with green are usually underripe.
How to Store: You can refrigerate peaches for three to five days.
Simmer your choice of ripe stone fruit -- peaches, nectarines, plums, or a combination -- with honey and spices to make this fruit compote that's wonderful on yogurt, ice cream, or grilled meats. Choose one of two flavor combinations -- star anise and allspice, or lemon zest and cinnamon -- to complement the fruit.
Ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites make the chewy, macaroonlike layers of this lovely cake. The layers are brushed with peach schnapps and spread with a mascarpone and whipped cream mixture, followed by peach puree. Refrigerate the assembled cake for at least an hour before topping with caramel-peach sauce.
Blackberries and diced peaches are baked into vanilla sponge cake to create the base of this summer trifle. Pieces of the cake are then layered with whipped cream and more fresh blackberries and peach slices in a trifle bowl or compote to create this stunning dessert.
Fold whipped cream into lemon-white wine curd to make the fluffy mousse for this trifle. Layer the mousse with cubes of purchased pound cake and roasted peaches or nectarines, and refrigerate for at least two hours -- or up to one day -- before serving.
Moist buttermilk cake comprises the bottom layer of this ice cream cake, followed by layers of peach sorbet. Mix diced ripe peaches into softened vanilla ice cream to create the top layer, and freeze the cake for at least two hours -- or up to four days -- before serving.
Sabayon is a dessert made by whisking egg yolks with sugar and wine (in this case, Champagne) over a hot water bath until the mixture is glossy and fluffy. To make this elegant dessert, fold whipped cream into the chilled sabayon and top each serving with a grilled peach half.
Brown sugar and lots of walnuts enrich this pound cake. While the cake bakes, make the sauce by simmering together maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, and cream, adding sliced peaches at the very end.