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Summer Sun Peaches —

In China, where peaches originated, the peach supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection. Wild peaches traveled widely and developed into many strains. The peach spread to the New World on Spanish explorers’ ships. Several tribes of Native American Indians were particularly fond of peaches. In the 1800’s, Georgia was named “the Peach State” for its abundant output. During the Gold Rush, the demand for peaches in California outweighed their availability, prompting the planting of peach orchards in the Golden State. Today, California is the major producer of U.S. peaches, followed by South Carolina, then Georgia.

This fruit is great eaten out of hand — just wash thoroughly and rub with a paper towel to remove the fuzz. Sliced or chopped peaches will discolor; toss with lemon juice to retard browning. They are wonderful in salads, smoothies, and lend themselves to a myriad of recipes.

Ripening & Storage: Peaches are easily bruised so handle carefully. To ripen, store in a paper bag in a single layer. When ripe, store in the refrigerator for up to a week depending on the degree of ripeness. For full succulence, bring them to room temperature, then enjoy both the flavor and aroma!

Spinach Salad w/Peaches & Pecans A wholesome salad that’s colorful, sweet and nutty you will be proud to serve to company, or enjoy on a weeknight with family.  Serves 4   3/4 c. pecans, 2 ripe Summer Sun Peaches, 4 c. baby spinach, rinsed and dried, 1/4 c. poppy seed salad dressing.  Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Arrange pecans on a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, until they just begin to darken. Remove and set aside.

Peel peaches (if desired) and slice into bite-sized segments. Combine peaches, spinach and pecans in a large bowl. Toss with dressing until evenly coated, adding more dressing if desired.

Fantasia Nectarines —

Early varieties of nectarines, which were believed to have originated in China, were nothing like the nectarines we know today. They were small, white-fleshed and very delicate. In Greece, residents called nectarine juice the “drink of the Gods” or “nektar,” from which its name is derived. The nectarine did not arrive in the United States until the 19th century.

In 1942, a yellow-fleshed variety of nectarine developed in California which was much heartier and could withstand shipping. At least 100 varieties have been created since then, and the nectarine has become an increasingly popular fruit. California is responsible for nearly 98% of the crop in the U.S.

Ripening & Storage: Store nectarines at room temperature until fully ripe. It’s important that you store them in a single layer to prevent bruising. Refrigerate when fully ripe, but for no longer than a couple of days. Otherwise, the chill may rob the fruit of its juices and flavor. Bring nectarines to room temperature to enjoy maximum flavor.

Nectarine and Brie Quesadillas w/Lime Honey Dipping Sauce:  SAUCE: 2 T. honey, 2 t. fresh lime juice, 1/2 t. grated lime rind, Combine these 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Set sauce aside.

QUESADILLAS: 1 c. thinly sliced peeled Nectarines, 1 T. chopped fresh chives, 1 t. brown sugar, 3 oz. Brie cheese, thinly sliced, 4  8-oz. fat-free flour tortillas, Cooking Spray, Chive strips (optional).

Combine nectarines, chives, and sugar, tossing gently to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange one-quarter of the cheese and one-quarter of the nectarine mixture over half of each tortilla; Fold tortilla in half. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat the procedure with the remaining ingredients. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges and serve with the sauce. Garnish with chive strips, if desired.

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Tracie Burket
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