Wednesday, July 30, 2014         

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Ripe stone fruits taste best in hand or sweet in crisp

By Joan Namkoong


Stone fruits -- peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots -- make for delicious summer eating, a nice departure from our usual tropical fruit fare. The season is brief, so enjoy these summer fruits while you can -- supermarkets are well stocked right now.

We all know that stone fruits travel a long distance to get to the islands. Sometimes, they don't travel well to Hawaii from their mainland origins; changes in temperature, handling and time can contribute to less-than-perfect fruit.

But consumers play a role in how the fruit develops, too. Peaches and nectarines in particular usually arrive at supermarkets as firm fruit. When you buy them, let them sit on your kitchen counter until they ripen and begin to soften; when you can smell them they're ready for the refrigerator and for eating. Placing firm fruit in a paper bag also helps the ripening process.

Eating fresh, ripe stone fruit out of hand is so delicious that you really don't need a lot of recipes or preparation. Remember that flavors are fuller when fruit is eaten at room temperature rather than chilled; chilling tends to mask flavors.

Fruit crisps are a simple way to prepare stone fruits while preserving their fresh goodness. Just cut fruit into chunky wedges and heap them into a pie pan. Keep the pieces on the larger side so they hold their shape as they bake. Top it with this Crisp Topping, bake and serve (ice cream is always a nice complement).


1-1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar, preferably raw or turbinado
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 cups oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place flour, sugar and spices in bowl. Add butter and, using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Or, use a food processor and pulse. Add oatmeal and mix.

Cut fruit into chunks and place in pie pan. Sprinkle with tablespoon or two of flour if you like; this will help to thicken the juices as the crisp bakes.

Top fruit generously with the crisp topping, mounding it over the fruit. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until topping is nicely browned.

Tip: This recipe makes enough topping for two 9-inch pans. Make a batch or two of this crisp topping and store in the freezer to use whenever you've found a great batch of fresh fruit. Mangoes, ripe but firm, are really good in a crisp; berries can also be used.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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