Friday, September 16, 2011

Picking Peaches

Summer just isn't summer unless there's peach pie. But for the first time in my life, I actually got to pick the peaches that went into my annual summer fling. For some of you reading this, that may not seem like such a big deal because, well, picking fruit at various farms and orchards has been something you've done growing up, or that you've recently done with your kids. I've noticed that it seems to be the thing to do with your kids ever since I moved to Virginia. That, and picking strawberries, which I fully intend to do sometime.

Well, I've picked my fair share of apples from an old apple tree that grew in our big backyard of the house I grew up in. Mostly it was apples that had fallen to the ground already because the tree was so tall, but my family and I still ate them so it's as close to the real thing as you can get.

So my first time picking peaches was also Claire's first time as well, although she probably won't remember it much since she's still a little person. But she did get to ride in a red wagon at the orchard for the first time, letting out squeals of delight along the way. (See picture below.) My excitement was a little different. It was when I got to pick my first peach from the tree, when I realized how cool it was cool that peaches could grow on trees. It's just not a sight I see every day. A slow smile crept onto my face. Satisfaction.

So after Chris and I had picked a few pounds worth, we headed home while I contemplated what I would make with our bounty. I furiously researched peach recipes on my iPhone, finding some good ones at Whole Foods and on the AllRecipes app, and put out a call to my friends on Facebook for their ideas. I knew I wanted to make a peach pie and came across a fairly straightforward one at By the time we got home, I decided to make a peach salsa and the peach pie. Both turned out well, much to my delight, though I'm not sure which I enjoyed more - picking the peaches or eating them.

Claire taking her first wagon ride at the orchard.
Peach Salsa
(Courtesy of Chiles Peach Orchard)

3 large ripe peaches (for about 3 cups diced)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large ripe tomato (for about 1 cup diced)
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper (for about 1 tablespoon minced)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (or less, depending on how much you like cilantro!)

Peel and pit the peaches, and cut them into roughly 1/4 inch dice. lace pieces into bowl, and squeeze the lime juice over the peaches and sprinkle on the sugar and salt. Stir to coat well.
Core the tomato, leave peel on, and cut into 1/4 inch dice. Add it to the bowl.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Rinse and seed the jalapeno (might want to wear gloves), mince it finely and add to bowl. Rinse and dry cilantro, and mince finely. Add it to the bowl. Stir well. Taste for sweetness, add more sugar if necessary.

Classic Peach Pie (shown above) 
(Courtesy of The City Cook)'

6 to 8 large fresh peaches, peeled and sliced into thick, 3/4-inch slices, enough to produce 6 cups
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (use a little more or less depending on how sweet your peaches)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small bits
Pastry dough for two-crust pie (I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts for simplicity's sake.)


Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Prepare the pastry dough and roll into two 10-inch circles; reserve one circle and keep it refrigerated.

Line a 9-inch glass or metal pie plate with the other circle of pastry dough, leaving about 1-inch of dough along the rim.

In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon and flour, using a fork to blend together. Add the peeled and sliced peaches and lemon juice and stir gently to completely coat the peaches. Try not to do this step too far in advance of assembling the pie because you'll get too much juice.

Spoon the peaches into the prepared pie plate. If there are juices already in the bowl, leave them behind and don't add to the pie. Scatter with the pieces of cold butter.

Cover the pie with the second rolled-out crust. Carefully seal the edges by crimping it by hand or with a fork. Cut 4 steam vents in the top crust.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the crust is golden brown. If the edges start getting too dark before the pie is finished cooking, gently wrap strips of aluminum foil around the edges to protect them during the last minutes of baking. Remove from the oven and let cool completely -- at least an hour -- before cutting. Serve warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.


  1. Oh... peach salsa. Thanks for the reminder. I've had so many home grown tomatillos the last few years, I'd forgotten about peach salsa.

  2. Lovely. But a word about the blog's subtitle. Shouldn't it be ". . . rather than cook for themselves"? As written it suggests going out as an alternative to basting oneself and crawling into a 400-degree oven . . .

  3. Well, my grandma would have made the crust with lard, but . . . ;->=

    a few years ago I took my city-boy brother -in-law to an orchard in my hometown and had him pick a totally ripe peach from the tree and eat it right then. He looked like he'd died and gone to heaven. He looked at me and said, "I never knew anything could taste this good."

    Enjoy, and go back again and enjoy the peaches and claire.

  4. Thanks for the comments!

    @BradMiner -- I hadn't read it that way, but now that you mention it...thanks for the correction!

    @JorgXMcKie -- I love the city but I also love the country for the awesome produce. Can't beat that!