Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to salvage mealy peaches...

Mealy, bland peaches are disappointing. Peaches that are organic, in season, grown by a well-respected regional grower, locally purchased, beautiful and delicious-smelling, which then turn out to be mealy and bland, are just wrong. Particularly when you bought a half-dozen of them at the premium organic fancy regional grower price.

Rather than chuck the peaches into the compost, I put them in a covered saucepan on low heat. They warmed, bubbled, and slowly dissolved into what I thought was a compote until I looked it up in my Food Lover's Companion. 

compote [KAHM-poht]  A chilled dish of fresh or dried fruit that has been slowly cooked in a sugar syrup (which may contain liquor or liqueur and sometimes spices). Slow cooking is important for the fruit to retain its shape. 
Definitely not a compote. Flipping through the book's cross-references, I learned that it's not a conserve either ("a mixture of fruits, nuts, and sugar, cooked together until thick") or a preserve ("fruit cooked with sugar and usually pectin... differs from jam in that the fruit is left in medium to large chunks rather than being puréed"), or a jam ("a thick mixture of fruit, sugar (and sometimes pectin) that is cooked until the pieces of fruit are very soft and almost formless.")

So what do you call fruit cooked down in its own juices without any additives or sweeteners? Are they assuming that people cook fruit only in situations that require sugar (or some other additive) in order to preserve it or to render unripe fruit more palatable?

Nomenclature aside, the peaches had been transformed from inedible to decadent. Rich, sweet, warm, and gooey. Like peach cobbler without the cobbler. I ate most of it directly from the pot with a spoon, but it would undoubtedly be fantastic on pancakes, ice cream, pork chops... the possibilities are endless.

It doesn't beat a perfectly ripe summer peach, though.