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Some people say that Colorado grows sink peaches. What does that mean? It means our peaches are so juicy you have to eat them over the sink. And we lucky Coloradoans are right in the midst of the season, which runs July 1 to September 20. 

Peaches originated in China where legend believes they bring luck, abundance and protection. Originally grown in North China on eroded, overgrazed land, the peach has become a symbol of fertility and affection. Today, the Chinese bride carries a bouquet of peach blossoms. 

This juicy fruit spread to the New World via Spanish explorer ships. According to William Penn, several Native American Indian tribes cultivated peaches and Penn credits them to the proliferation of this fruit in our country. Thomas Jefferson planted peaches at Monticello in 1802.  In Colorado Harry Talbot planted the first peach orchards in the Grand Valley in the late 1800s. So, we Coloradoans have been enjoying sink peaches for well over 100 years. 

Although we normally think of using peaches in pies and cobblers, here's a recipe for grilled chicken topped with a peach salsa that my family thinks is to die for.  

Grilled Chicken with a Peach Salsa
Serves 6 

For the Salsa: 

            2 cups fresh peaches, chopped
            ½ red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
            1 ripe avocado, seeded, peeled, and chopped
            3 green onions, thinly sliced
            1 teaspoon finely shredded lime zest
            Juice of one fresh lime
            1 to 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, snipped 

In a bowl, combine peaches, red bell pepper, avocado, green onions, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until chicken is ready to serve. 

For the Marinade: 

            1 cup chardonnay wine
            2 teaspoons finely shredded orange zest
            1/3 cup orange juice
            2 tablespoons olive oil
            2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, snipped
            1 bay leaf
            6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

In a medium bowl, combine wine, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, rosemary, and bay leaf. Place chicken in a shallow dish, pour marinade over chicken, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Drain chicken, reserving marinade. Place the marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Set aside. Grill chicken about 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Brush occasionally with marinade while grilling. Serve chicken with salsa. 

Cooking tip: To peel thick-skinned fruit, cut a small amount of the peel from the top and bottom of the fruit. Place the fruit on a cutting board and cut off the peel in strips from top to bottom.  

Shopping:  A good peach will have a well-defined crease a sweet fragrance, and feel soft to the touch not mushy. Do not buy peaches that have "green shoulders" around the stem end. This is an indication the peach was picked prematurely. Peaches with large, flattened bruises will not ripen well. If the skin of the fruit is shriveled at the stem end or has turned a red-brown color, the peach is over-ripe. 

Storing: To ripen peaches, place them in a cool place with their stem end down. If the peaches give slightly when pressed and begin to smell, they are ready to eat. If you place peaches in a paper bag, they will ripen in about a day. Once ripe, peaches will keep 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  

Carol Ann Kates is the author of award-winning cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market, selected as one of the top ten cookbooks by the Denver Post Food Staff.


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