It's All Peachy

I have literally been swimming in organic Colorado peaches. I have always loved peaches but Palisade peaches? They're something else. They are the kind that soak up the snow melt on the Western Slopes of the Rockies, beat the vagaries of our spring weather and bring chin drippin' lusciousness to your taste buds in summer. The demand is always high for peaches, and even more for organic peaches.

Peaches from First Fruits
Palisade peaches from First Fruits, Paonia

But before I go all peachy on you, I have some exciting news to share.

Come fall, I will be teaching Home Cook Classes in Indian food at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder. The classes will be monthly with the first class on September 26. If you are local (Denver / Boulder area), this will be a fun class that teaches homestyle Indian cooking, not the greasy-fare you find in Indian restaurants. It's food that you will make over and over, be able to adapt to other produce, because you will learn simple techniques that form the foundation of Indian cooking. This workshop also makes a great gift for someone who is interested in Indian cooking. I hope to see you there!

On October 12, I will be introducing an Indian film made in the UK that is part of the new Food Film section of annual International Film Series organized by CU Boulder, not to be confused with Boulder International Film Festival. The film, Jadoo, will be shown at 7pm in the Muenzinger Auditorium, located west of Folsom Stadium (400 seats) on the CU Boulder campus. Tickets are $7 per show, $6 for CU students, with a Food Film Festival pass for $25 that will get you into all five food films. This pass includes free parking validation at the Euclid Auto-Park garage.

My friend Julia has been working tirelessly to get this together, from conception to implementation. The film Jadoo is sponsored by Savory Spice Shop, my favorite spice shop in Boulder. Thank you, Dan!

If you are local, please mark your calendar and come out to Muenzinger Auditorium to watch an Indian food film with visuals so strong that you can smell the food! I'm also working on some cultural activities around the film and if they come through, I will have more information in the days to come.

Now, back to peaches!

Every year, our Band Boosters non-profit parent organization buys thousands of pounds of conventional and organic peaches directly from two family-owned orchards in the Palisades area. We also buy pears. This year, our grower lost his entire crop of conventional peaches, raising the demand for organic peaches. We are supporting this family farm through this period by selling their apples. Our growers are also popular vendors at the Boulder Farmers Market and the Lafayette Peach Festival.

Last year, I stepped into this fundraiser gingerly and tentatively. Fundraisers are always polarizers. There are those who whip out their check books to buy whatever your kid is selling and then there are those that give you a lecture. I've been on both sides myself. When the product being sold is not one I care for, like cookies, processed foods, wrapping paper, etc., I write a check directly to the school or group. Usually, schools and kids raise pennies to the dollar and a middle-man takes most of that commission. That, however, is not the case with our peach fundraiser as we buy directly from the growers. The fruit is tree-ripened and transported in their trucks to our high school's parking lot. That's how direct it is. The school administration is not involved and all commission raised is put directly into our marching band's general fund, with a portion going to the fundraising student's account. This fundraiser helps close the gap between the funds school district gives us for our marching band (less than 1% of actuals) and the actual cost.

Parents work hard behind the scenes to make this happen. This is our biggest fundraiser and we're always sold out simply because the peaches are the best anyone has ever eaten! Parents of kids in competing marching bands buy from us because they depend on us for their summer fruit! That was one of the best things I heard this summer.

Chin drippin'
Chin drippin' Rocky Mountain goodness

We eat them standing over the kitchen sink. They are that juicy. These peaches are now my Alphonso mangos. That last bit might make sense only to an Alphonso-mango lover.

Last year, I bought only a box and a half (35lbs) and, by mid-December, I was already kicking myself for not buying more. I did two very simple things with the quickly ripening peaches that we could not consume:
  • sliced the peaches, laid them out on a cookie sheet and froze them
  • pureed the peaches, skin-on, poured the puree into ice-cube trays and froze them.

Pureed
making frozen cubes of pureed peaches

I am the Freezer Queen. While I love to can, I prefer to freeze more than can, especially when it is fruit like peaches. This will be the third year that I can my own tomatoes and other savory things like salsa, over jams and preserves. We do not eat much sugar and our consumption of fruit preserves is even lower. But these frozen peaches? Oh my! I caramelize the frozen slices in a little pat of butter on a cast-iron griddle and serve them over pancakes through winter. Or on salads. Or in an after-school smoothie.

Frozen peach puree
stack in a tall glass

I like to stack the pureed peach ice-cubes in a tall glass and pour chilled sparkling water over them.

Frozen peach puree with sparkling water
Pour sparkling water

Frozen peach puree with sparkling water
Invigorating effervescence

I let them "bloom", stir and enjoy the taste of summer in my glass. Better than organic water, even. (That's a joke!)

Summer in your glass
Natural sugars only in this drink

This frozen puree can also be thawed to make a quick peach sauce but I've never quite done that yet.

I hardly ever buy bottled juice, sugary sodas even less. If I do buy juices, less than one third of the glass is filled with juice and the rest with still or sparkling water. Our taste buds are now accustomed to this level of sweetness in our drinks. If you like your drinks sweeter than we do, you might want to add some simple syrup or Stevia or a sweetener of your choice to this peachy drink.

If you, like me, have the good fortune of excellent organic peaches grown in family-owned orchards, and are wondering what to do with this Colorado gold, consider these two quick methods of preserving peaches through winter. You won't regret it, I promise!

8 comments:

Simi J said...

GORGEOUS! I love the idea

Shruti said...

How I love this fruit!!!

Don't miss to participate in ongoing event 'Sweet Celebration' on Cooking with SJ :)

http://cookingwithsj.com/ongoing-event/sweet-celebration/

Manasi said...

This is great. Good Luck with the classes, will you be recording the sessions? I do hope you will and share them with us.
I love the Peach+ sparkling water idea. Very refreshing for summer.

Anita said...

I wish I had thought of freezing sliced peaches! I got my hands on a box from a friend's garden - but they ended up as jam! I did distribute most of it though. This way I could have made it last through our winter as well! Next time.

Grrreat pics, btw.

Poornima Krishnan said...

What a wonderful idea! Can't wait for our peach season to arrive. I shall raise my peachy drink as a toast to your great idea.

Manisha Pandit said...

Simi, simple but so good!

Shruti, me too! Good luck with your event!

Manasi, thanks and no, the classes will not be recorded.

Anita, there's always next year!

Poornima, thanks! When is your peach season? We are getting our last delivery this week. We are sold out yet again!

sangeeta said...

These are nectarines not peaches. Please let me know if it is a local variety of peach and not nectarine as I understand.
Lovely pictures and I love such natural drinks that you make out of your fridge :-)

Manisha Pandit said...

sangeeta, these are definitely peaches. Nectarines are the same species as peaches except for one genetic difference: they have a smooth skin whereas peaches have fuzz on their skin. These had fuzzy skins. Our Band Booster Organization buys these peaches in bulk (thousands of boxes) directly from a Colorado grower in Paonia. Based on the info from the grower, these are Sierra Ridge peaches (dark color, good flavor, semi-cling/semi-freestone). I hope this helps.