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Peach pie is an age-old dessert that can be served hot or cold. This pie can be made with fresh or canned peaches. The two main peach varieties are Freestone and Clingstone. Both varieties of peach are suited for baking and canning.
In general, peaches can be categorized into two groups. The fruit is either a yellow or white skinned variety, and considered either a clingstone or freestone. The white variety of peach contains a low acid level and is sweeter than the yellow variety, which has a more intense flavor.
Clingstone peaches are named so because the flesh of the fruit “clings” to the seed pit. When preparing peaches for baking, the clinging fruit is more difficult to remove. The freestone is just the opposite as the flesh of the peach falls easily from the pit making preparation of the fruit much easier. Peaches used for peach pies and cobblers are usually the clingstone variety. Smaller than the freestone, the clingstone is sweeter and juicier. The freestone and semi-freestone varieties are large, contain less juice but remain sweet.
Both the clingstone and freestone can be used to make peach pies. The pies can be a single crust filled with freshly sliced peaches or a lattice-top pie. A variation of a peach pie is a deep-dish cobbler created with a thicker crust. The cobbler can be enclosed with a solid pastry topping or topped with drop biscuits.
The pandowdy is another name for a deep-dish pie. This dessert is most commonly created using fresh apples but a variety of fruit can be used including fresh clingstone or freestone peaches. To enhance the flavor of the dessert, during baking, the top crust is broken into chunks allowing the peach juice to saturate the crust.
Another variation for a standard peach pie is to use fresh peaches in a baked fruit crisp. The peaches are prepared the same as for a peach pie, but placed in the baking pan without a pastry crust. The peaches can be sprinkled with a flavorful crumb topping.
Peach pies can be made using canned peaches or peach filling. Processed clingstone or freestone peaches are flavorful and do not require any preparation other than opening the can. Processed peaches are ideal for making peach pies when the fresh varieties found at the market are not in season.