Two summer favorites - Jersey Fresh tomatoes and
peaches - are now in season and available at many local
farm markets, Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus
announced today. While early varieties of peaches also
can be found in supermarkets this week, tomatoes are
not expected to reach most supermarket shelves in any
appreciable volume until next week.
Tomatoes are ready to eat when they are slightly
soft. An extremely firm tomato is not yet fully ripe,
even though it may be completely red. Never refrigerate
Jersey tomatoes. This destroys the natural, vine-ripened
taste. Never place them on windowsills, which are
usually too hot. Store tomatoes at room temperature
in a cool dark place. A sliced tomato loses its vine-ripened
flavor quickly so choose tomatoes that are small
enough to consume in one meal.
A mature peach is intensely fragrant, has a golden
or cream undertone and yields to palm pressure. Shriveling
at the stem end and excessive soft spots indicate
an overripe peach. Peaches are best kept at room
temperature, although refrigeration may be necessary
to keep ripe peaches from spoiling. When ripe, peaches
can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than
five days. Never put an unripe peach in the refrigerator;
it will not achieve optimum flavor, resulting in
a mealy texture.
The early yellow variety Sentry is available this
week, with other varieties to follow in the coming
weeks. New Jersey's peach season runs through September.
Last year, New Jersey farmers harvested nearly
76 million pounds of tomatoes on 3,300 acres and
57 million pounds of peaches on 8,000 acres. To be
sure you're buying Jersey tomatoes and peaches, always
look for the Jersey Fresh logo at your local farm
market or supermarket.
Following are recipes from Jersey Fresh Cooks,
a cookbook available at local farm markets. The bruschetta
recipe was submitted by Claudia Ocello of Rahway,
while the peach cream pie recipe was submitted by Betty
Jane Biache of Ringoes. For the location of farm
markets or other information on Jersey Fresh, visit
the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.
Bruschetta with Basil
2-3 large Jersey Fresh beefsteak tomatoes or 5-6
Jersey Fresh plum tomatoes, finely diced
2 Jersey Fresh cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 teaspoon Jersey Fresh oregano, chopped, or ½ teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons Jersey Fresh basil, chiffonaded*
extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 loaf black olive Italian bread or a French baguette, sliced into ½-inch
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the crostini, brush each slice of the bread
with the olive oil on both sides. Salt and pepper
each side. Place on parchment or aluminum foil on
cookie sheet or sheet pan, and bake at 350 degrees
for about 8-10 minutes or until brown on bottom.
Turn and continue until both sides are lightly browned
and center of bread springs back when touched - do
not over bake.
Mix the tomatoes, garlic, oregano and basil in
a non-reactive bowl. Add in the olive oil and salt
and pepper to taste. Stir until all ingredients are
blended. Mound some tomato mixture on each crostini.
Serve immediately. Serves four to six people.
*To chiffonade basil: Stack 2-3 individual leaves
of similar sizes. Roll them together from point to
stem so you have a little tube. Slice the tube as
if it were a loaf of bread; you will get long strands
of basil. Repeat as needed.
Fresh Peach Cream Pie
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons flour
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Jersey Fresh egg, beaten
2 cups Jersey Fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
1 unbaked pastry shell
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cold butter
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons chopped almonds
Combine sour cream, flour, salt, sugar, almond
extract and beaten egg. Beat 3-4 minutes on medium
speed. Fold in peaches. Pour into pastry shell and
bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven.
Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over top
of pie. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Chill and