Passion for Peaches
Peach season is in full swing. There’s no better time to savor one of our state’s favorite fruits.
Between Montgomery and Birmingham, just off I-65, a giant, yellowish-orangey orb pops out at you, radiant against a summer’s bright blue sky. Every time I see it, it warms me through, but it’s not the sun. It’s a giant peach on a stick. Or more accurately, it’s the city of Clanton’s water tower fashioned in the form of the one of the Deep South’s most symbolic fruits, designed to honor the crop that means so much to Chilton County and to also pull drivers off of the interstate, inviting them to stop and take a taste of the area’s sweet heritage.
At just one exit (No. 205) for Clanton, for example, you’ve got several options to indulge your peach passion: fresh-from-the-tree peaches, peach ice cream, peach fried pies, peach jams, peach cider and more.
Chilton County’s hilly terrain and well-drained soils help make it the leader in peach production in Alabama. Farmers grow at least a couple dozen, and often many more, different varieties to ensure a longer harvesting season.
While Georgia may produce a higher quantity of peaches than we do (and South Carolina beats both states), Alabamians know that a just-ripe, semi-soft, blushing-cause-it-knows-its-so-good, golden-fleshed Chilton County peach easily rivals the “peach state’s” peaches in quality.
Right now, this fuzzy favorite is at its peak, and if you can get your hands on Chilton County peaches, good for you. But no matter where your peaches come from, use them to make some of these peachy keen, reader-submitted recipes.
– Jennifer Kornegay
Cook of the Month
Myscha Crouch, Joe Wheeler EMC
Myscha Crouch, Joe Wheeler EMC
You can whip up Myscha Crouch’s easy twist on traditional peach cobbler fast, and since it’s also delicious, it will disappear just as quickly. “I’ve been making it for about two years, and I modified a recipe I’d found to give the topping more flavor and texture,” she says. She was inspired by a homemade granola she makes and drew on that snack’s combo of crunchy, salty and sweet to round out the soft and sweet of the peaches.
“You can use frozen peaches,” she says. “Just thaw them first. But this time of year, you really should use fresh Alabama peaches.” Trust Myscha. She knows her stuff. “I love to cook and experiment with foods,” she says.
She’s even earned our Cook of the Month honor before. And her recipe has an added bonus: For folks watching what they eat or dealing with food allergies, note that this dish doesn’t call for any refined sugars, wheat or dairy.
Skillet Peach Cobbler
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 peaches, peeled and sliced
- 1½ cups finely shredded coconut
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
- 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¾ cup butter
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the filling ingredients except the fruit until well combined. Toss the fruit in the mixture to coat well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the coconut, arrowroot/tapioca, cinnamon, seeds and salt together until well combined. Mix in the butter and maple syrup until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. Place the fruit filling into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Then evenly cover the fruit with the topping, leaving the edges of the skillet exposed so you can see some of the fruit and to allow space for bubbling. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling and the fruit is soft.
- 6 peaches, peeled, seeded, halved
- ½ cup dark rum
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 stick butter
- ¼ cup pecans, crushed
Grill peaches 5 minutes per side. In saucepan, combine rum, brown sugar, butter and pecans. Cook mixture 5 minutes on low heat. Add peaches to mixture and cook until caramelized, turning often. Serve and enjoy!
Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 cups fresh peaches, sliced and peeled
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inch)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon 2 percent milk
Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and allspice. Add peaches and blueberries in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half of dough to a circle; transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to ½-inch beyond rim of plate. Add filling. Dot with butter. Roll remaining dough to a circle. Cut into ½-inch-wide strips. Arrange over filling in a lattice pattern. Trim and seal strips to edge of bottom pastry. Flute edge. Brush lattice strips with milk; sprinkle with more cinnamon or sugar if desired. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool before serving.
Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC
(for making fried pies)
- 15 pounds peaches (do not peel)
- 5 pounds sugar
- 1¾cups vinegar (apple cider)
- Cook over low heat until thick enough for pies. Put in jars and seal.
Betty Brewer, North Alabama EC
Wanda’s Peach Cake
- 2 sticks sweet cream salted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon almond flavoring
- 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring
- 3 cups cake flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3 cups ripe but firm peaches, diced
- 1 3-ounce package apricot or peach Jell-O, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tube pan with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flavorings. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream to the creamed butter mixture. Fold in peaches and ½ of the dry Jell-O. Spoon into pan and bake for 60 minutes or until done.
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 12-ounce can peach soda (I use Faygo)
- 2 or 3 peaches, peeled and sliced
- ½ package of reserved Jell-O package
Put sugar, butter and soda in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peaches and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and set aside to use for garnish on the cake. Add the Jell-O, stirring to dissolve, and cook two minutes. Leave cake in pan and punch holes in cake with a thin knife. Pour glaze over cake slowly so it will absorb. Save a small amount for the top of the cake. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Invert on a cake plate. Garnish with reserved peaches and remaining glaze.
Wanda Stinson, Pioneer EC
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 stick butter or margarine
- Cook on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
- 2 peaches, quartered
- 1 package crescent rolls
Roll one quarter peach in each crescent roll. Put them in a casserole dish and pour the sugar/butter mixture over the peaches and rolls. Bake at 350 degrees until brown. (Recipe is easily doubled.)
Edna Watts, Cullman EC
Peach Ice Cream
- 16-ounce can sliced peaches
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 can condensed milk
- ½ pint whipping cream
Drain peaches and reserve juice. Put peach slices in a food processor and blend until smooth. (It’s fine if a few small pieces are left.) Put peaches in a large bowl and add the peach juice, sugar, whipping cream and condensed milk. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour mixture into the freezer bucket and fill with milk to the fill line on the bucket. Freeze according to freezer directions.
Cook’s note: Fresh peaches may be substituted. Just add more sugar.
Cathy Johnson, Marshall-DeKalb EC