The North Fork Valley of Colorado where I live is blessed with so many orchards, most of them organic. In mid – August, everyone was talking about JJ’s peaches, u-pick for 1.25 a lb. I decided to drive up to Lamborn Mesa during the height of the earliest picking season, on a coolish morning which was quickly warming up.
I wound through the country on a nicely tended gravel drive, and could spot apple and pear trees full on beautiful. When I parked by the other cars, I had ended up at a nice log garage/peach staging area. Three men were seated in chairs, talking. One of them, Jamie – the orchard’s owner – a sparkly eyed, stout, barrel chested fellow, stood and walked right up to me. I smiled, and, without preamble, while rubbing his hands together said jovially (he reminded me of a hobbit) “Didja come to get you some??” I said “yep”, then we talked particulars, he handed me the buckets I’d need to complete my haul, and sent me off in the right direction. He encouraged me to pick and eat one or two while I was harvesting! The “Red Havens” were the variety at their peak on this trip. A few days later, I picked over 40 more pounds of “Glow Havens” for friends across the divide.
I had never actually picked peaches before! I’d chosen many from roadside stands, but this was so satisfying to me, choosing then encircling the round, chubby peaches with my hand, giving a twist and having them loosen from their sturdy perches on the branches. The trees were loaded. Jamie was friendly and benevolent upon my return, gently layering the peaches evenly, stem side down, in the boxes he provided and before I knew it I was driving off. I watched two kestrels aiming straight for peaches on the trees, diving in and catching a few bites of their own. I circled back down the hill and into town. The profits made from all the fruit sales go to his wife, who has health challenges and many medical expenses. The orchards were receiving a steady stream of people eager for the excellent peaches and happy to help family out, too.
I was hot and very happy myself, surveying my dining room table a few minutes later:
I was going to a potluck and community fire ceremony that night, and in my head pictured a great dessert to bring – elderberry peach crisp. As you may remember from other posts, there are huge elderberry bushes in my yard, well laden this year with many clusters of berries. I then follow with two more tasty recipes to help round out my pantry, and yours! I sliced and froze most of my peach pickings for winter smoothies, compotes and baked goods.
I tend towards less sweet desserts myself, letting the natural sugars of the fruit stand out. Choose your own preferences and everyone will be happy. Enjoy!
I gently mixed the peaches, elderberries, honey and cornstarch right in the baking dish – a sweet gift from friends! Bake about 1 hour – until the bubblings thicken nicely, then —
Take a closer look:
Elderberry Peach Crisp
Preheat oven to 350. Flexible recipe!
Filling – makes a beautiful deep dish dessert (can be baked in a deep pie plate too, of course)
- about 7 c. sliced peaches, I leave the skins on after scrubbing gently to remove the fuzz, as you like, feel free to peel
- about 2 c. elderberries, stemmed and rinsed – lacking elderberries, blackberries or blueberries-especially wild! are fantastic too
- 1/2 – 2/3 c. honey, to let the fruit flavor shine through
- 1/3 c. cornstarch
Gently mix right in the baking dish as you like.
Topping (gluten free)
- 2/3 c. quinoa flakes (or gluten free rolled oats)
- 1/2 c. coconut (or other gluten free) flour
- a few dashes cinnamon
- 1/3 c. or so butter, softened
- 3 -4 tbsp. honey
In a small bowl, with a fork or your fingers, evenly rub the topping ingredients into a crumbly topping. Add a little more flour or butter for the consistency you like, taste. Will you like it a bit sweeter? A drizzle more honey, then. Crumble topping evenly over the top of the fruit filling. Place on center rack of preheated oven, and bake 50 minutes to around 1 hour. Note: bake uncovered the first half or so of the baking time. Check about 1/2 way through your baking time to see how the topping is browning, and cover if necessary, with a loose piece of foil or other cover. It was delicious and fully devoured at the potluck that night.
I was still surrounded with peaches, so next I made this wonderful batch of Frangelico peach preserves. I am quite sure that Amaretto would work very well in this recipe too, though I’m saving that flavor for a favorite Amaretto pear preserves this year, made with a hint of allspice. The alcohol in the recipe seems to brighten the peach color of the finished preserves, too, and lends a special touch for winter morning breakfasts – hazelnut muffins, pancakes or waffles?? and unique gifts, too.
Frangelico Peach Preserves – makes approximately 4 pints plus two 1/2 pints, or any jar size variations you may choose
- about 10 large ripe peaches, finely chopped
- 1 c. honey
- 1 small – 50 ml – bottle Frangelico (Italian hazelnut liqueur)
In a large pot, stir ingredients together over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit breaks down, and the preserves thicken well. Use a potato masher or spoon to assist in this process. Test the preserves by dipping a wooden spoon in them, then running a finger through them. If the trail holds it’s shape without juice filling it, the preserves should hold up nicely. Fill hot, sterilized jars, wipe rims, seal, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Lift, cool, and check seals.
I had three peaches left over after my other projects, and was going out of town with 42 more pounds of peaches the next morning. What to do? I thought it would be fun to make something, rather than just devour them (as I’d put away a few already. They were just so good.) Hot sauce is always fantastic, and I had three little red, roasted serrano chilies just waiting. Excellent dip for chips or sweet potato fries, tacos, burritos, black beans, (and southwest poultry and pork dishes – if you eat meat)
Sweet Serrano Peach Hot Sauce – makes one pint
Couldn’t be easier! Spicy!!
- 3 large, fully ripe peaches
- 3 roasted serrano chilies, stemmed of course, or to taste
- 1/4 – 1/3 c. sherry vinegar
- a few tbsp. agave nectar
Puree all ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth. Taste. Adjust seasonings if desired. Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened. Pour into hot sterilized jar and process into boiling water bath 10 minutes, or simply store in refrigerator.
Enjoy your peaches, everyone!