Ina Garten's Secret Ingredient For Bringing Out Peach Flavors In Pie

During the summer months, especially during the height of the harvesting season, it's not uncommon to stand over the kitchen sink eating a whole peach. Juice may be dripping down your arm, but you don't give one iota. It's sunshine's sweet nectar, after all. Beyond peach preserves and the like, topping the list of ways to enjoy the summer's peach harvest is baking a peach pie and devouring it fresh from the oven.  

Cookbook author and star of the cooking show "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten is of the same notion when it comes to the perfect peach pie — the more peach flavor, the better! To bring out even more of the peach flavor in her peach pie recipe she adds orange juice and orange zest. Rather than make the pie taste like oranges, Garten notes that the secret ingredients make "the peaches taste ... well ... peachier!" In fact, she vows that the addition of oranges just might make the best peach pie she's ever made. 

The secret ingredients

Most peach pie recipes call for at least a squeeze of lemon juice, which helps prevent the peaches from browning. Additionally, sugar is used to macerate the peaches prior to baking. So, the lemon's acid also balances out this sweetness, but if you think about it would you prefer to suck on a lemon or an orange? With far less pucker than lemons, oranges are full of flavor, yet still throw a brightening punch of acid that doesn't overpower the peach's delicate floral notes. On top of it all, the limonene — the chemical that gives oranges their pleasant smell — found in the orange's zest scents the peaches beautifully.

In her peach pie, Garten starts by blanching peaches to more easily remove their skins. Then most of the peaches are sliced, with the exception of one which is diced. She brings a slurry of sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, orange juice, and butter to a boil, as she folds in the diced portion of her peaches. This combination will create a velvety compote of sorts that will accompany the sliced peaches for a show-stopping peach pie. Though they're just a small component to the overall recipe, the juice and zest of oranges are her secret to the peachiest of peach pies.