Peaches are my favorite fruit. Over my birthday weekend, my husband and I took a road trip to a pick-your-own orchard to pick peaches. The plan was to get enough peaches to make some jam (a hobby of ours... that oddly enough I haven't written about here yet), some deserts, and just have fresh peaches around to eat. We love the fun of picking the fruit straight from the farm, where we know exactly where it came from. A rare phenomenon these days.
We set out early to make the scenic drive to St. Joseph Missouri. There weren't any closer orchards that had peaches ready to pick. We ended up at Schweizer Orchards in the near 100 degree heat in the early afternoon. Pick-your-own peaches were $1.19 per pound and we planned to pick about 12 pounds. When we got to the rows and rows of peach trees, we noticed that the air smelled sweetly of peaches. It was incredible. Rows were kindly marked with the name of the variety of peaches and noted with blue ribbons if they were ready for picking. We began to survey the trees and feared that they had already been picked over for the day. The ripe peaches were few and far between... or too high for us to reach. Sooner or later we began to fill up our baskets with a few good peaches. It was hard to resist, so we shared a sun warmed, perfectly ripe peach. Wow.
After trying a few more rows, we got into the groove and found trees that hadn't been picked much at all. Ryan developed a method for shaking the branches gently and when peaches began to tumble off, that meant they were ripe. Though we had to be careful not to mix ours up with the peaches that had fallen to the ground. There were so many!! After a sweaty hour we realized that we had filled at least 4 baskets to overflowing and that we should stop... even though we were having fun. All told, we left he farm with roughly 30 pounds of delicious peaches.
|our peach haul laid out on the table that evening|
We made two dozen jars of peach jam... plain delicious peach, honey-peach, and my favorite ginger peach.
We made this amazing peach cobbler. And peach ice cream (ridiculously good).
We even mixed the peaches with bacon for this salad (it was so good it was gone before I got a picture).
Just before I sat down to write this, I salvaged the remainder of the peaches (it's been a week since they were picked... some were in bad shape) and sliced them for freezing.
The day was a wonderful way to spend part of my birthday. Whether you are going to get bushels of fruit for recipes or just want the experience of seeing fruit in its natural habitat, I highly recommending going to a pick-your-own farm. Because you are providing the labor, the fruit is generally a lot cheaper than pre-picked fruits from a farmers' market and definitely cheaper than the supermarket. Find more information about pick your own farms and orchards here.