Savoring the Seasons: Grab a Bib…it’s Peach Season!

The Recorder, August 4th, 2015, by Mary McClintock.

While you read today’s Recorder Food page, I’ll be camping at a music festival in the woods in Michigan. By now, I will have eaten all of the western Mass. peaches I packed for my road trip and will be eating the tasty peaches grown in western Michigan. Before I left for my trip, I looked back through columns I wrote when I first started this column. I wrote this week’s and next week’s columns before I left (no computers in my Michigan campsite!), and borrowed material from earlier columns.

Here’s what I wrote in August, 2007, still just as true today:

Lobster isn’t the only New England food that requires a bib. Local peaches aren’t served with a decorated bib, but they should be.

Many area residents don’t realize there is golden treasure in the hills of Franklin County. When I wax poetic about the luscious peaches grown at Clarkdale, Apex and Pine Hill, some respond with a neutral, “Peaches? Oh, they’re all right.”

Clearly, they’ve only experienced those fuzzy rocks sitting in supermarket bins weeks after they were picked green and shipped from far away. As I launch into “You must try a local peach. It’s a completely different fruit,” I feel like someone seeking religious converts.
Local peaches, how do I enjoy thee? Eating a sun-warmed peach with juice dripping down my chin as I lean over the kitchen sink is the best. Inevitably, I laugh in delight. I slice them into my morning cereal, bake them into crisps, and cook them into chutney to enjoy with local chicken or lamb curry. If lucky, I savor fresh peach pie baked by a friend.

Local fresh peach season ends by the third week of September, so enjoy some now … and later. Peaches preserve well — canned, frozen, in jams and chutneys. I peel, slice, and freeze peaches in zippered freezer bags. Given my busy schedule, I’ll use frozen peaches for a chutney-making project later this fall.

I’m not much of a pie-maker, but why not try this: prepare peaches as if you’re baking a pie now, put them in a pie tin and freeze it. This winter, pull out the frozen pie-shaped slab of peach slices, pop them into a crust and bake. I do something similar with peach crisp and it works fine.

Want to go to the source for great peaches in Franklin County? For directions and farmstand hours, visit Clarkdale Fruit Farm’s website at, Apex Orchard’s website at, or contact Pine Hill Orchard at 624-3325.

Just remember, bring your own bib!

That was what I wrote in 2007. Here’s a recipe I shared in 2013 that’s now one of my favorite ways to savor peach season.

* * *

This week we’re eating. . .

Almond-Crisped Peaches
By Pat Lively, Seattle (adapted from “Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard” by Nigel Slater)

4 ripe peaches

1⁄3 C. whole almonds

1/4 C. sugar

3 T. cold unsalted butter, cubed

Optional: 1/4 C. rolled oats, 1⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon, pinch of sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Halve peaches, remove pits. Place fruit cut side up in baking dish. In food processor, grind almonds and sugar together until coarsely ground (with a few pebbles left). Add oats and other flavorings, if using, then butter, pulsing machine until ingredients are just blended. Spoon almond mixture into center of each peach, press it flat, as if icing tops of peaches.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (baking time varies with peach size), until top is brown, crisp and you can easily slice through fruit with fork or spoon. Serve warm or at room temperature, with creme fraiche, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or plain yogurt, cold, for breakfast.

Without food processor: Use equivalent weight of almond meal or finely chopped almonds, stir in sugar and any other ingredients, then same volume of butter, melted.