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The peach puzzle: How do I store peaches and will peach pies freeze well?

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Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013 12:00 am

Dear Barbara: I’m making five peach pies for the freezer, and I am trying to think of ways that I won’t have a huge mess to clean up. Can you make pie crust in the food processor? Also, am I supposed to store peaches in the fridge or on the counter? — Sharon from Lodi

Dear Sharon: Let’s start with picking out the peaches and storing them. You want a nice firm peach for pie making — not real hard, just firm to the touch. Look at the stem area, and if it looks green or yellowish-green, don’t buy it. It should be red or yellow all the way down to where the stem was removed.

If they are firm but have just a slight give and you don’t want them to get any riper, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You should use them within 3 to 5 days.

If the peaches feel a little harder than you would like them to be, leave them on the counter and they will soften in just a day or two.

As for making pie crust in the food processor, you certainly can, but be careful that you don’t overwork the dough. I would not try to make more than one dough recipe at a time. Be sure that all your ingredients are very cold (including your flour). Don’t put everything in at once, or it will mix too much and become tough.

Put your dry ingredients in, pulse a few times just to mix, and then add the pieces of cold butter or shortening. Pulse a few more times to break up the fat into small, pea-size-pieces. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, just as you would if you were making it in a mixing bowl.

When the dough starts hanging on to the blades, stop! If you let it form a ball, it is over-mixed and will become tough when baked.

Pour it out onto some plastic wrap (it will be crumbly) and form it gently into a disk. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Repeat this process for each pie crust or double-crusted pie. I’m sure you will have delicious, fresh peach pie even after peaches are out of season.

Dear Barbara: I know there are sea scallops and bay scallops, but what is the difference? Which ones taste better? — Maryanne from Lodi

Dear Maryanne: Other than the obvious, scallops are usually put in just the two categories of “sea scallops” and “bay scallops.” Sea scallops are much larger and considered not quite as sweet as bay scallops.

Then there are bay scallops; that is where we come to the fork in the road. True bay scallops are found on the East Coast from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. However, on the West Coast we don’t have the true bay scallops. What are sold as bay scallops on the West Coast are usually calico scallops (found in the sea, not in the bay). They are also sweet; just a tiny bit smaller in size than bay scallops. Because they are considered sweeter, they are also going to cost you more.

Bay scallops work best for dishes that have a combination of ingredients. If you plan on searing them and they are standing on their own, sea scallops would be the better choice.

Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at

bdspitzer@comcast.net. Please include your first name and city.

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