Fresh peaches are truly one of my favorite things about living in Louisiana.

Best enjoyed from late June to early August, peaches are perfect for dishes that will help you beat the summer heat.

When you’re picking out peaches, avoid any that are slightly green or under ripe. But don’t rely solely on the color. Look for peaches that are slightly tender and smell, well, peachy. Peaches will get softer and juicier after you bring them home, but they aren’t likely to get much sweeter.

Don't wash or refrigerate your peaches. Put them in a smooth bowl (even a container can bruise their delicate flesh) and keep them at room temperature until you’re ready to cook or eat them.

To freeze peaches, slice them and place them on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer. Once frozen, you can store them in containers or freezer bags.

I Eat La.: Recipes for Peach & Prosciutto Salad, Peach Blueberry Parfaits

Because peach season is fairly short, you might want to buy a half peck or two at the farmers market and freeze them for later. 

I love a nice fresh peach as a snack after a humid morning working in the yard or laboring over the keyboard.

They can also make a refreshing lunch or dessert. I love these quick recipes for fresh-from-the-market peaches. In this Peach Blueberry Parfait, they're the perfect sweet treat, and in the Peach & Prosciutto Salad, the sweetness is a nice foil to the salty Italian ham.

Happy Independence Day, y'all. Stay cool!