Sunday, September 20, 2009

Peachy-keen, Jellybean

I love tree-ripened peaches. My dad planted a couple of peach trees when I was a kid, and I was thereafter spoiled for supermarket peaches. I'll see them in the store and they look pretty, but there's no aroma. You can take them home and they'll soften, but they never will taste like peaches. I want my peaches still warm from the sun, eaten right there next to the tree, bending over to keep the juice from dripping down my shirt.

I have a couple of peach trees, but because of our typical tricky Spring weather, here they're an every-third or -fourth year type of crop. My mature nectarine tree set a crop this year, but then succumbed to borers (I'm just heartsick - they're in my pie cherry tree too). Aries cut it down today, but left a sprout that came up from the roots so I'll have to see what comes from that before digging it out completely. I have a pitiful twisted little July Elberta peach tree trying to hang in there. I got about 1/2 bushel of peaches from it three weeks ago. I managed to get a few trays of slices into the dehydrator, and have been stuffing myself on fresh peaches daily since then.

And then, there's what I call the Seedling peach tree. I don't know what kind it is. It just sprouted one summer under the edge of our woodpile. I figure a squirrel buried a seed it stole from somewhere - I don't think it's an Elberta, because its fruit ripens almost a month later. I transplanted the little seedling to the edge of the garden, and then out in the orchard. It's since grown into a nice tree. It lost a couple of branches to borers this year, but is still doing pretty good. I've been testing and tasting, patiently waiting for those peaches to get ripe and hoping the birds will leave me some (I hung a bunch of junk CD's in the branches - hoping the sun glinting as they turn in the wind will frighten them off).

Finally, it was peach-picking day today. The bird-pecked ones I cut into chunks and put into the dehydrator (no room in my freezer). I gave my neighbor a bagful, and made a batch of jam this afternoon. I've set aside 15 pounds for a batch of salsa, and have enough to gorge myself on for a couple more weeks. Eating seasonally from my own labors means I've got to get my fresh peach fix when I can. Oh, but they're soooooo good while they last!


Lisa said...

I'm so jealous! All the peaches on my fairly young trees got brown rot this year. Probably due to the hard and frequently rain we got in the spring. I was so disappointed after watching them bud out for the first time and trying to be patient about picking them.

Any idea about spraying for brown rot? When and what? I want some peaches next year!!!

Thomas said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am VERY excited to join the CO-OP.

I'm sorry to hear about your nectarine tree. It's always hard when something you've nurtured and waited to come to fruition is suddenly taken away from you. At least with veggies, you get over it following season. The loss of a fruit tree I'm sure sets you back a long time.

Also, those peaches look spectacular!

Anonymous said...

What kind of Peach tree is it?

Aussiemade said...

Oh I can feel that peach fuzz and smell the fragrance. My trees are still very young. Not a lot of flowers on them this year, and the wallabies have broken a couple of branches...sigh.
May I ask you what sort of dehydrator you have? It looks like it does a lot in one go.

Annodear said...

You making me HUNGRY! ...and all we've got are supermarket peaches :(

Still... got my little peach sprout that I'm planning on planting come fall.

Nancy M. said...

They look so wonderful! I'm so glad you got some peaches this year! Enjoy!

Sadge said...

Lisa: I've never had to deal with brown rot. I think humidity has a lot to do with it, and I live in a high-desert climate. It's a fungus, so you'll have to check out fungicides if you're determined to spray your trees. I'd suggest making sure all fruit - thinnings, fallen or withered on the tree - is completely cleaned up, thin out branches for more sunlight and airflow, and stop fertilizing your tree, especially nitrogen.

Anon: I don't know what my Mystery peach tree is. The squirrel that buried the seed probably got it from food waste given to the chickens. The seed might have come from Farmers Market peaches I bought in a no-fruit year, or maybe from something the neighbors gave me for the birds. The first year it bore fruit, about 2/3 were doubles, but it's settled down now, and bears lovely yellow free-stone peaches in mid-September (July Elberta bears its fruit mid-August here) on a wide-spreading sturdy tree about 8' high.

Aussie: My dehydrator is a Bee Beyer's Food Dryer. I got it when the little old lady across the street decided to get rid of everything and move to India. It's harvest-gold, a popular appliance color from the 1970's. She gave me a book that she got with it, copyrighted 1976. It still works great - it has 8 stainless steel-screened trays, an adjustable thermostat and variable fan. I occasionally see the dehydrators offered on Craigslist (maybe not so much in Tasmania, though), and has used copies of her book available.

Eilleen said...

oh I should not have read this post on an empty tummy! I'm so hungry now!

I'm jealous of your dehydrator. How cool.

Melynda said...

Your peaches look great. How do you use the dried peaches?

Margaret said...

You are so lucky to have tree ripened peaches, brings me back to my childhood vacations spent with my grandparents in Italy, they had a peach orchard. The juice would run down my chin as I ate a freshly picked peach. You were kind enough to make a comment on my jalapeno post last week and wonder if you could give me your batter recipe for jalapeno poppers.

Thanks Margaret

risa said...

Ah-h-h-h-h-h. You do good stuff.

peaches are said to be iffy here in the Valley. But I've put in four nectarines; one is poorly; the others got through the summer ok. A new cherry has died, I think; at present it is serving as a beanpole, which makes it quite lively looking.