I will not buy peaches in a grocery store. I don’t care if they do say “locally grown.” Shipping to a store still means a lag time from orchard to kitchen, and in order not to have gloppy bruised peaches, the fruit must be picked on the early side. Peaches picked too soon never ripen properly. So instead of buying rock-hard peaches that go bad before they get soft, every summer I go to the source and bring home a lot of peaches. Then it is Peach Week at our house.
“I love you a bushel and a peck,” goes the song from the musical Guys and Dolls. That song is rolling in my head as I look at all my peaches. I did buy a bushel and a peck. The bushel is for making peach yummies: desserts and jam and freezing for winter. The peck is simply for eating: sliced on cereal or yogurt, or just fist to mouth with juice slobbering down my chin and up to my elbow. The bushel and peck of peaches (minus what has already gone into a crustless pie, a batch of jam, and pleasure eating) has exited the boxes for single layer display on the kitchen counter. Good thing I have a lot of counter space.
Once upon a time, I picked the peaches myself. I used to take the children to Larriland Farm in Howard County. New-mom Kristin was just a year old when I discovered her in our kitchen, clad only in diaper and t-shirt, slurping a peach she had pilfered from the box of fruit I had picked the day before. And Harper’s mom Shelley was a wee babe the first time she came along for peach-picking. But fresh peach fuzz gave me a rash. It didn’t bother me a day later, but right off the tree the peaches bothered my skin.
When we moved to the Hereford Zone, I headed north to Brown’s Orchards in Loganville, PA, and discovered boxes and boxes of fresh-picked peaches ready to go. I felt so lazy the first time I bought a box that someone else had picked. But after buying a peach sundae and eating it at the picnic tables overlooking the orchards, my guilt subsided and I just gave in to the relaxing moment.
The other day, when Harper and I went up to Brown’s, some friendly ladies enjoying their sundaes at the picnic tables asked if we knew about the playground. Well, talk about a treat! We hadn’t planned for playground time, but Harper checked it out, had a quick slide down the sliding board and approved the monkey bars. It won’t take any arm-twisting to get him to accompany me on my next trip to Brown’s.
So what have I done with a bushel and a peck of peaches? Two batches of jam, peach sorbet, a crustless peach pie, 2 “pie-fulls” of sliced peaches in the freezer, some smoothies, a peach cake, and frozen ice cube trays of peach purée for future smoothies and for baby John to eat in a month or so! Wow, before next peach season rolls around Tiny Reber will be born and old enough to eat them!
Here’s the recipe for the absolutely amazing peach sorbet I made this week:
2.5 pounds of ripe peaches (about 10 peaches)
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier*
Peel, pit, and chop the peaches. Pulse in food processor with sugar and salt until combined. With processor running, add the water, lemon juice, and Grand Marnier. Process for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar.
Chill in fridge for an hour. Once chilled, pour into ice cream maker and process for about 20 minutes, or until slushy. Transfer to freezer bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap to avoid ice crystals and freeze several hours until firm.
(*I used Grand Marnier because several recipes I looked at called for it and I had it in the house. I would have tried Amaretto, but didn’t have any. And Peach Schnappes would be an obvious option. The alcohol helps with the texture of the sorbet.)