Fruit poaching is a simple process, and, at least for a fruit as delicate as peach, a quick one as well. Start by making your poaching syrup, a mixture of two parts water and one part sugar by weight. Here I have a pint (pound) of water and 8 ounces of sugar. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. If you feel like it, the seeds from one vanilla bean make a great addition. You’ll have enough syrup to poach half a dozen peaches or so.
Now split your peaches…
…and remove the stones.
Gently scoop out some of the fibrous bits around the stone.
Now’s the time, if you don’t want to poach with the skins on, that you need to blanch the peaches. To do this, you’ll make shallow cuts in the skins here and there, then plunge the halves into simmering water for 30-60 seconds. Once cooled, the skins will peel off fairly easily. I want to leave the skins on for color, so I’m skipping this step.
Gently put the peaches into the simmering syrup. Notice that the syrup isn’t boiling, that’s by design. You want the syrup only hot enough so that you see the odd bubble or two come up every few seconds. Try to ensure that the peaches are completely submerged, especially on the skin side. Let them poach for five minutes.
After five minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let sit another five minutes. Once again, push the peaches under the level of the syrup since they’ll want to float. You’ll notice the skins beginning to fade.
When the poaching period is up, remove the peaches to a shallow dish and pour the warm syrup over them. Allow the dish to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
The next day you’ll notice that the skins have started to wrinkle. No worries, the fruit underneath will be lovely. Simply slip the skins off. The flesh will be a soft pinkish-white, ready to use for whatever purpose you wish, like oh say, topping a charlotte. You’ll also have a quantity of peach syrup leftover. Use that as your imagination dictates. Mixed drinks, anyone?
This method is terrific for white peaches, and works for regular yellow peaches as well, though for obvious reasons the colors will be darker. Also, if the peaches are very ripe, you’ll want to poach for a shorter time lest you cook them into mush.