Gluten-Free Ginger Peach Crisp

Warm and spicy, try making this gluten and dairy free ginger peach crisp for a taste of summer in the middle of winter

As a lifelong huge fan of peach crisp, I had a goal to make a healthier version that was safe for my family to eat.  I wanted to make a gluten free peach crisp, amped up with warm ginger spice.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been making peach crisp for over thirty years.  (Wait, how is that even possible, I’m pretty sure I’m only 32???)  My first time trying to make it by myself was as a young teenager.  My mum went away on an Outward Bound leadership canoeing trip, and I wanted to surprise her with a treat when she got home.  We had a bunch of ripe peaches, so I figured I would give it a try.  She came home from that week in the woods, exhausted, dirty, full of stories about her adventures, and took one look at that crisp and nearly swooned.  Honestly, it was like she had won the lottery.  It was probably the worst crisp in history, the peaches were soupy, the topping was over mixed and hard. She ate every bite and said it was the best thing she had ever eaten.  Best. Mom. Ever.

A winter crisp

January is in interesting month for me, food-wise.  On one hand, I am completely ready to eat clean and get on the fitness wagon along with everyone else.  On the other hand, it’s dark and cold and I still want warm, nourishing, comfort food. I’m not quite ready to give up all the holiday sweet yummy good stuff.  So, what do you about that inherent conflict?  The answer came to me last August when I was working on this new recipe.  After playing around with different combinations, when we tasted this version we knew it would be a hit!  With the warming spices, this is a great, healthy treat, perfect for the post-Christmas blues.

Warm, spicy crisp, perfect for a winter’s night.

Fresh or Frozen

I can hear you thinking the same thoughts I had – peach crisp in January?  Whaat?? How is that even possible???  Well, of course the easy answer is frozen peaches.  Local, frozen right at the peak of ripeness, they are the perfect solution.  Then my eco brain kicked in and I thought to myself, I wonder what is better for the environment – frozen domestic peaches or fresh imported peaches?  You think you know the answer right, local frozen fruit should win…but that isn’t necessarily true.

Ecological Footprint of Frozen Fruit

After an initial skim of the internet, many of the eco-based websites (like Sierra Club for example) suggest frozen is better; the food tends to be higher quality in taste and nutrient content, and because you can portion more easily frozen food creates less waste.  Makes perfect sense to me! So, I was completely shocked when I delved into the peer reviewed literature to find that in many instances, the processing, packaging and freezing of produce had a larger ecological footprint than imported fresh.  Crazy.  Blown away.  I had really bought in to mileage-based environmental assessment so often touted in the media.

But, like the example from to this article that compared domestic frozen blueberries vs. imported fresh,  “the imported fresh blueberries were more sustainable than the domestic frozen blueberries in terms of acidification, global warming, ozone layer depletion, human toxicity, fresh and marine water ecotoxicity, and photochemical oxidation, as well as human health endpoint impact.”  The authors noted that the assessment is a highly imperfect process and is impacted by how long the food was frozen for, how it was shipped,  and how far it had to travel.  Even still, it looks like refrigeration and food packaging for freezing still has a lot of room for improvement!

At any rate, I don’t think there is a perfect answer (well, maybe freezing your own peaches, or just using boring old apples?).  My local produce store did not have any imported peaches this week, so it was a moot point for me.  As a foodie, frozen peaches are a decent alternative when fresh is not available, and this recipe works for both.  And for the record, canned peaches do not work in this recipe.

How to make gluten-free ginger peach crisp

I like to assemble my topping first.  I played around with different gluten free flours, and in the end I decided I liked the flavour and texture of almond flour best.  This recipe does work with gluten-free flour blends, and you can substitute any cup for cup blend if you need to avoid nuts.  I love the bit of crunch and texture the coconut and slivered almonds give the topping, but again, it is flexible so omit them or substitute in any seeds or other nuts as you wish.

The real treat in this topping is the chopped candied ginger.  I chop mine fairly finely, to about 1/8” dice, or until it’s fairly granular.  It really adds a zing and elevates a regular peach crisp to something new and special.  Definitely worth a trip to the store!  Mix all the dry ingredients well, then cut in a vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance) or grass fed butter until crumbly.

Finely chopped candied ginger adds a delicious zing to the crisp topping.
Dry ingredients for gluten free crisp topping.

In a larger bowl, mix the sliced fresh or frozen peaches with the corn starch, sugar, and just a tiny pinch of dried ginger.  Slide them into an 8” x 8” pan, add the crumble on top, and bake for 30 minutes (fresh peaches) or 45 to 50 minutes (frozen peaches).  Top with a nice dollop of coconut milk yogurt or ice cream and enjoy!

Ginger peach crisp

The best, gluten and dairy free ginger peach crisp
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Crisp, Dairy-Free, Ginger, Gluten-Free, Peach
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Crisp Topping

  • ½ cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds (optional)
  • ¼ cup vegan margarine or butter room temperature

Fruit Filling

  • 6 medium peaches (approx. 1 kg frozen, sliced peaches)
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 2-3 tbsp white sugar
  • pinch ground ginger (optional, for ginger lovers)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients for topping. Cut margarine in with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Into a large bowl, peel and slice peaches. Add in sugar, starch, ginger (optional), and mix well to combine.
  • Transfer filling to an 8" x 8" pan. Top fruit loosely with crumble mixture, some fruit may peek through.
  • Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (45 -50 minutes for frozen fruit), until golden brown and bubbly, and fruit is fork tender.
  • Serve with your favourite gluten and dairy free ice cream or yogurt.