Thursday, June 14, 2012

There's More Than One Way to Skin a Peach

Peach season in the South has never been so lovely! The kids and I were able to meet an aunt and some of our cousins last week at a local peach orchard and do some peach picking in the lovely, slightly warm, summer early morning. My three and I were the first to arrive, and as we stepped out of the car, I said to the woman manning the fruit stand, "It's so quiet out here!" to which she replied, "So far." For about a minute all I could hear were the birds, and then the kids' cousins showed up, and all the kids were so happy to pick peaches together that all that lovely peace and quiet was replaced by much lovelier giggles and excited gasps and shouts. And tree climbing. And filling ever heavier peck baskets.

While we picked I became overwhelmed with gratitude. There were SO MANY PEACHES! Here we are, just picking food off of trees for fun! There were so many peaches that we were able to pick and choose which ones looked good, even leaving spotted peaches on the ground, while people in other parts of the world have so, so little. God has been so very good to us, and while we teach our kids about where food comes from, I want more than anything for them to live with a spirit of gratitude.

We brought home a bushel of beautiful, not-quite-ripe gold peaches. They seemed to multiply over the next couple of days as we ate them fresh and turned them into:

Peach salsa (I followed this recipe but halved the sugar and added a jalepeno pepper)
and Peach Jam

Peach Iced Tea (Paul's very tasty creation)

Personal Peach Tarts with Puff Pastry (yum!)

This is just a shot of the pickling spices that my pickling-fiend friend Joy gave me. I thought they were so pretty, they deserved a closeup.

We also made a homemade peach and pecan chutney for our pork chops one night (so delicious!), and I canned 4 quarts of peach slices and froze 2 gallon freezer bags full. I tell you what, I am glad that I was able to use up these peaches, but I am pretty tired of peeling and cutting by now. But I would definitely not say that I'm tired of peaches! They're so versatile. We were able to do so many different things with them that I don't feel like all we've eaten is peaches.

I was talking to my sister yesterday about the canning I'm doing lately, and we laughed about how many jars of jam or other fun food it's so easy to end up with. As in, "Well, if there's an apocalypse, make sure you have your zesty homemade peach salsa! Party down the end of the world--fiesta-style!" Not that I'm expecting the end of the world, but, you know what I mean. I'd really like to try to can food that is going to last us through the year, which really is why Paul bought me the pressure canner for Mother's Day (best gift ever). So, we'll be canning tomatoes and sauces later on, and if I feel adventurous (always!), we may can some vegetables. And I really need to follow Joy's lead and pickle things besides cukes, I suppose. Eventually I'd really like to try canning stews, because it's so nice to have those things on hand when you'e in a pinch, and homemade is always better, isn't it? It would be nice if the pantry was full of things besides fruit jams.

Personal Peach Tarts with Puff Pastry (4 servings)
(my kids would get as close to you as they could and emphasize each and every "P" by exploding it in your face)

1 sheet of puff pastry
3 good size peaches
1/4 to 1/2 C sugar
A few shakes of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, whatever other spices you want to throw in there
1. Preheat your oven to 400. Butter bottom and sides of 4 cups of a jumbo muffin tin.
2. Lay out slightly thawed puff pastry. Cut it into 4 squares and press the squares into the muffin tin cups. The corners of the squares will sort of rest on top of the cups.
3. Peel (do you know the trick with soaking your peaches in boiling water for a minute and then dunking them in ice water to get the skins off? works like a charm) and dice your peaches and then sprinkle them with sugar and spices and mix that all up so that the peaches are evenly coated.
4. Pour your peaches into the pastry cups. You can sprinkle the top of the pastry cups with a little water and sprinkly some sugar on top to make a nice little touch.
5. Bake your cups at 400 for about 20 minutes until they are lightly browned and cripsy on the bottom. You want to let them sit for at least 10 minutes once they are done and then gently loosen them out of the tin and serve warm. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. We'll definitely have to try the peach tarts once I see more peaches around here. Your jars are all so pretty! We need to have an apocalypse party. Peach salsa, for sure!