I’ve noticed that coming across a slice of peach pie on a dessert menu or a whole pie in a bakery is practically impossible these days. Having developed a real craving for the summer/fall treat, I set off on a 10-day trip to the Peach State – Georgia.
I uncovered great stories- like how the public and private sectors of the city of Columbus worked together to develop their river into an urban whitewater rafting course. And, woo-hoo, the rafing adventure was terrific.
I met interesting people like original Freedom Singer, Rutha Harris and learned of bridge builder Horace King in Albany. I visited fun attractions like Tank Town, where I drove a tank, basked in the beauty of Callaway Gardens, and fished on West Point Lake in LaGrange with top bass pro fisherman Keith Poche.
Where are the Peaches?
Boy, did I eat. I ate in more fabulous restaurants than my waistline could hold, but day after day I struck out– no pie. Peach Cobbler was fairly easy to find, and I ordered it. Sadly, each time I found the cobbler was made from canned peaches.
Then, one morning I came across fresh peach topped French toast at the Bitter Brick in Columbus. The dish made a yummy breakfast, but was not as yummy as my imagined pie.
At lunch on day number eight, I found a peaches and cream pie at Blue Ridge Grocery.Hooray! The dessert was absolutely delicious- with a graham cracker crust and wonderful crunchy topping, but it still wasn’t the real fruit pie I was searching for.
On the ninth day of my trip, I toured Mercier Orchards, famous for their apples, and was overjoyed to find they also grew some peaches. Owner Tim Mercier personally gave me basket of beauties to take home. He also informed me that peaches, unlike apples, don’t sweeten up after they are picked. The real problem with peaches, he said, “Is their shelf life is a maximum of two weeks.”
So that’s the reason for the lack of fresh peach pie: peaches must be picked at the right time – when sweet enough – and consumed or processed within days.
Fortunately, my itinerary called for me to return home with my goodies the next day. So, on the twelfth day of peach pie hunting, my true love came to me. I made myself a deep-dish delight.
I prepared the crust using my food processor, and then blanched the peaches in boiling water for about 30 seconds. The skins practically fell off. I sliced them and added a bit of lemon juice, almond extract and a dusting of sugar, flour and cinnamon.
Plus, a bonus for my efforts: the recipe made enough filling to freeze an extra batch for another pie – one to fix and enjoy sometime before those pipers coming piping.
FRESH LATTICE PEACH PIE
Makes 1 nine-inch deep dish pie and enough filling to freeze for another pie. Use half the filling ingredients when making only one pie.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ripe peaches (about 5 pounds)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pie crust – homemade or package
1. Line a 9-inch pie plate with a double thickness of aluminum foil using 2 pieces.
2. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt into a small bowl.
3. Drop peaches, 3 or 4 at a time, into boiling water; leave for 15-30 seconds. Lift out with a slotted spoon. Peel off the skins, cut in half; remove pits, then slice (you should have 10 cups).
4. Place peaches in a large bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice and almond extract; toss lightly. Sprinkle with sugar mixture; toss gently to mix.
5. Spoon filling into foil-lined pie; wrap foil snugly around to enclose completely. Place in freezer. Once frozen you can remove the pie plate, label and return to freezer.
6. Roll out piecrust to fit the bottom and sides of the 9-inch pie plate. Fill with remaining peach slices.
7. Roll out remaining pie crust and cut into 10 strips. Weave over top of pie, turn edge under and flute the edges. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in a hot oven 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the over to 350 degrees and continue to bake- 35-45 minutes longer or until the pastry is golden and juices bubble up near the center. Cool one hour. – Story and photos by Debi Lander, RFT Contributor