Monday, July 26, 2010

Preoccupying food question requires reader input

I have an off-topic food-related question I'm going to throw out to readers just on the off chance somebody has special insight, even though doing so requires me to apologize for self-indulgently straying far from the usual subjects covered on this blog.

My query concerns what to do with fresh peaches. There's a peach tree in my front yard that's about 10 years old, and which is fruiting spectacularly for the first time this year thanks to all the extra rain we're getting. Over the last decade during the drought, its fruit would never quite ripen and squirrels would pick off any promising candidates prematurely, often taking one bite then throwing the peach on the ground. This year our tree has been overloaded to an amazing, ridiculous degree. We've probably harvested more than 200 peaches so far (and likely lost a similar amount to squirrels, bugs and neglect), and even so the limbs are still sagging under the weight of those that remain - the next few days promise a whole bunch more, though we seem to be on the downward slope of the cycle. They taste spectacular and it's really been a wonderful, summer surprise from a tree that we'd resigned ourselves would provide more shade than edibles. There are also two fig trees in the back yard that have produced far more figs than we've remotely known what to do with.

My question: I've got a decent cobbler recipe, but what else besides fruit salad am I supposed to do with this overwhelming quantity of peaches? We've eaten them at every meal, given away a boatload and still have multiple bags of sliced, fresh peaches completely filling up a large freezer, with more coming every day. I'm the house cook so it falls on me to figure this one out. Send via email or post in the comments any recipes or suggestions along these lines. Ditto for figs, which I've tried relatively sparingly but only because I simply know few techniques to use them, (though they're quite plump, wonderful, and delicious just consumed raw). The dilemma stems from the quantity - I need more options to use them up without making the same couple of dishes over and over.


shg said...

My DW makes a fabulous peach pie and a peach crumb cake. So if you happen to have any spare peaches lying around...

'stina said...

My dad was the recipient of a gift of peaches from a patient who has a tree similarly bountiful this year. His own fig crop has been outstanding, so he's been making fig and peach chutney:

NatalieR said...

How about pureeing some peaches and making fresh peach daquiris or bellinis? What a delicious problem to have... too many peaches.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I don't have the recipe but one of my favorite childhood memories is of the fig preserves my grandmother used to make. I'd bet there are recipes on the web of course.

Anonymous said...

And do not forget peach preserves

Anonymous said...

homemade peach ice cream

Anonymous said...

Fill grocery sacks full of 'um to the Travis County Jail and feed all the innocent and illegally detained prisoners. lol. Post your address and I'll send my two daughters who live in the Evil Empire over to pick some. John Bradley would probably take some off your hands.

My current wife says freeze some 'cause a peach cobbler sure is good in January.


jdgalt said...

My mother would make a peach pie or two, and can the rest.

Anonymous said...

I second the peach ice cream. Get an ice cream churn and make some vanilla, then throw them in in the last few minutes. It's some of the best you'll ever have.


MailDeadDrop said...

With the economy still wobbly, many folks still depend on local food banks. Take your surplus to the food banks.

Anonymous said...

Didn't your grandma make pickled peaches? A tip from an Italian friend -- slice a fresh peach in a glass of red wine for dessert. Fresh figs for dessert eaten raw with some creamy blue brie.

Anonymous said...

Peaches are yummy in sangria.


Anonymous said...

Hey Scott, I would suggest freezing them, but sounds like your freezer is full. Patricia freezes some peaches every year; it's a lot of work to do it right.

Taking them to a food distribution point would be good. I'm sure there are a lot of them around Austin.

Charles in Tulia

Rex Thompson, Tyler said...

peach salsa is delish. recipes on food network website or southern living magazine. But the local food bank or church food pantry is the best idea.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks folks for the suggestions, and keep 'em coming.

On the food bank idea, unfortunately some of them are a little buggy and we're having to cut them up to get around some of the flawed parts. A few look perfect, but many have a buggy spot, a bird peck, or something that makes it too flawed to just hand to somebody whole. But with a little (now daily) prep we've generated a LOT of volume. This a.m. Kathy filled three more gallon freezer bags with sliced peaches, and our windowsills are lined with dozens more that'll be ready soon.

The other thing we've done quite a bit is peach smoothies: Frozen peaches and bananas mixed in a blender with apple juice and yogurt. Mmmmmm!

One funny aside: The squirrels inexplicably keep taking ripe peaches (mostly from the top of the tree where we can't reach them easily) and carrying them across our rooftop to drop them on our back deck, where my dogs greedily eat them then gnaw the pit like a bone. I never knew before that dogs like peaches, but two of the three seem to love them.

Anonymous said...

peel and cut up the peaches then freeze them so you can eat 'fresh' peaches the rest of the year. They make great ice cream too. We used non-fat, sweetened condensed milk and peaches to make it.....except for the sweetener in the canned milk, it's a great low-fat treat. enjoy!

Angie said...

Check out the, they have some great drink recipes that use peaches...and just about anything else you can imagine.

roy said...

Wine. My grandpa Jack made wine from every kind of fruit in his neighborhood, getting the fruit for free from people like you whose trees were overproducing.

Jennifer Laurin said...

I "third" the frozen product suggestion. If you have an ice cream maker, peach ice cream or fro yo is terrific. I've been making it since the season started. The Statesman had an easy peach ice cream recipe in their Wednesday food section about 4 weeks ago.

I also use peaches in salads. Great with cucumber, red onion, some mint, and goat cheese.

Jennie said...

Make Fig Newtons. You can Google and you will find many recipe websites. Dried figs are good. Also dry some of the peaches instead of just freezing. Or quick bread.

Peach Quick Bread

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups mashed peaches
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground apple pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar & butter. Add eggs and beat well. Add peaches and dry ingredients. Blend. Add in vanilla and nuts. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9x5-inch loaf pans. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a wooden pick or knife comes out clean. Let bread cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves or peach bread.

Angee said...

Peach ice cream is yummy. You can freeze cobblers rather than just peaches. Donate some to the senior citizens center so they can make cobblers.Fried pies are fantastic and the dough can be purchased ready to use. How about making a dozen for me?
I have no suggestions for figs. Maybe a fig cobbler would make you famous.

Anonymous said...

yummm ... from my childhood, peel and cut the figs, chill. Serve with half/half or straight cream! OMG - I dream of figs and dang it, you can't buy them in the store!

Kerry said...

Got any friends with a food dehydrator? I loved dried peaches.
Bourbon peach jam would be good. For fig shakes take 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 4 figs, a tablespoon of honey (to taste) and throw it in a food processor or blender. There's also a chicken and fig recipe out there. But I wish I were near you because I'd start taking them off your hands and doing some canning.

Anonymous said...

"Can" them. Every grocery store sells cans and can lids and preserves (everything you need to can except the large pot). You can readily look up internet instructions on how to do so, and they'll last until NEXT year. Plus they taste great in that syrupy peach flavor, and can go great with just about anything.

Of course, you could always invite friends or neighbors over to help you pick some. Any religious association that you may belong to would also appreciate a donation. Finally, bring some in bags to work. Your coworkers will appreciate them.

Dianne said...

Everyone should be drinking homemade, whole fruit smoothies by now and a cut up peach frozen just for that purpose, to nourish and delight, is another way to enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

This is odd for your blog Grits but so many good recipes. Just to circle back in to blog topic, we used to make peach wine in tyc. There were a bunch of mature peach trees that had been planted around Hilltop school. In the summer they were everywhere, we would pick and eat off the tree on our trips to the infirmary for medication call. That’s if the boss wasn’t in too big of a hurry to get back to the school and sit on his ass. We would take some back to the dorm and soak those things in window cleaner and allow them to ferment in the ceiling tiles in the clothes room. A warm dark place. Talk about a buzz mixing state boy peach wine with the psychotropic drugs those bastards would give us brought a whole new meaning of doing time. You couldn’t get that in the free world. Looking back with my knowledge of Chemistry I can tell you it was because they don’t make wine with window cleaner and the drugs they gave us were ban by the FDA years prior. I guess they had to do something with the surplus. Some kids actually said they hallucinated on the stuff. There’s something to be said about a well established facility like Gatesville was when tyc had it. I correspond with a guy who was there in the 40’s and we were reminiscing about the peach trees. Only for a moment then we recalled some horror story. I wonder if Gainesville has old peach trees and I wonder if the tdc people still have all those peach trees growing at Hilltop school.
Sheldon tyc#47333 II c/c

Anonymous said...

Peaches and figs!

How wonderful!


doran said...

All of these suggestions are wonderful. Particularly the ones about smoothies, and peach-alcohol combos.

The best long-term thing you can do is can those peaches. It is amazingly simple to do; you do not need a pressure canner. The peaches will keep longer if properly canned than they will in a freezer, and at a lot less expense. If you haven't the time, then make an offer to someone to can them on "the halves." You provide the peaches, and half the cost of the canning jars, and they do the actual canning.

As for your dog, you need to be careful. Peach pits contain cyanide and at least one other compound which can be poisonous to the critters. Google it.

Mad Jack said...

Too many peaches? That's kind of like having too much money.

1. Can them. Invite a few friends over for a day's work and can the peaches. Reward the friends with:

2. Peach daiquiri or similar concoction.

3. Home made peach ice cream. Remember to get a few ice cream containers so that the friends can take some ice cream home with them.

Along with the canning you can also make peach jam or peach preserves. Both of these are excellent.

Please be careful of the dogs and peaches in the back yard. Peach pits, if ingested by the dog (show me a dog that won't eat anything that can be swallowed) the peach pit will raise absolute havoc with the dog's digestive tract.

As for the squirrels, have you considered squirrel stew?

Pam said...

First peel the peaches then poach the peaches in syrup made from half water and half sugar for about 15 minutes and let the peaches cool in the syrup. It makes a great ice cream topping.

You can also make a peach tart with a free standing pastry shell, creme patissiere and poached peaches brushed with apricot jam.

Anonymous said...

Freeze them or can as preserves. The county extension office can help with the how too's.


I was in Austin last week, if I had only known i would have helped you with some of them.

doran said...

Pam, if the peaches are as great as Grits says they are -- and we cannot, of course, doubt his words on this subject any more than we can on any of the other subjects he addresses -- a syrup made of half water and half sugar will be way, way too sweet. I recommend a light syrup. He can get some ideas for this from that greatest cook book or all times, The Joy of Cooking.

A local friend who lives in North Bastrop County enjoyed a similar bounty with his peach tree. I canned some of his loot "on the halves," with a light syrup and the peaches, as well as the left-over syrup, are too good to be described by mere words.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

peach smoothies for breakfast. You don't need a recipe. Ingredients (mix or match):
milk or yogurt
dash of lemon juice
other fruit as desired- bananas, berries, mangoes

You can also try green smoothies- look awful but taste great:
2 parts fruit to one part green leafy vegetables- spinach, kale, lettuces, cress, and about a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate.

Peach salsa:

Peach shakes: peaches, a bit of milk and some vanilla ice cream (bluebell, natch) in the blender

john said...

Peaches take a huge amount of water, the opposite of grapefruit and some others.
They aren't ripe too long so by now they'll be falling and you'll be mowing.
Can 'em, freeze 'em, cook 'em every which way good & rare in winter, sales or give away.
Mash into pancake batter.
Use as hair rinse.
Don't throw at passing cop cars.
Don't go to Austin and throw at Legislators. Rick Perry may have been paid to have them given to 6-yr olds, who knows?

Blue Roses said...

~~ Blue Bell Peach Ice Cream, fresh peaches, Peach Schnapps, and peach liquor in the blender. It's perfect.

~~ Peaches are fantastic in baked beans.

~~ Peach butter made like apple butter only takes less time.

~~ Eat all you can and freeze all the rest.

~~ Love your blog, btw.

JohnT said...

Can them! Good grief, am I that old that I remember canning fruits and veggies?

Get mason jars, a big kettle for boiling, lids and seals, then get busy. It's a lot of work reserved for women in the old days, but kind of fun. You'll have peaches all year long. Not as good as fresh but serviceable.

Anonymous said...

Can 'em.

jaymee said...

easiest thing, grill your peaches and make peach shortcakes. Just halve them and throw them on the grill, the natural sugars from the peaches make them deliciously sweet and. Then just layer them with some whip cream over a shortcake cup you can buy on the store, or make from scratch.

Anonymous said...

The current issue of Better Homes and Gardens has an article with many unusual recipes and suggestions for fresh peaches.

Anonymous said...

Peach wine!

Yummy recipe: