So I was having an otherwise great week when I walked into my local Too Expensive Food Emporium to buy peaches for the pie you see here and about had a heart attack when I saw the price per pound. I tracked down the manager.
What’s up with the peaches, I asked. I explained that I like to make pies, but I thought the price of produce was getting out of hand. I shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage just to bake a pie.
He seemed at a loss for words, so I leaned in a little closer. If he was being watched by one of the local peach cartels, I didn’t want some thug planting a bomb under his pickup. At last, he mumbled something about the intersection of shipping costs – clearly, these things only traveled first class – demand, and the disadvantageous scale of small organic growers. He probably thought he could bore me out of there, and he was right.
No matter where you buy peaches they probably cost too much – doesn’t everything? – so this week I’m going to show you, step by step, how you can get the most for your peach dollar by wasting less peach. It’s an initiative I call No Peach Left Behind, or what’s otherwise known as blanching.
That’s step one above – lowering your peaches into a saucepan full of boiling water. Normally, if you weren’t watching, I’d just drop the things in by hand but in order to prevent unwanted burns and lawsuits, I recommend lowering them slowly into the water with a slotted spoon or scoop.
Some people drop 8 or 10 peaches in at once, but I like doing just a couple at a time. And no, you don’t even have to remove the labels since they’ll come off in the water.
Leave them in the water for about 30 to 40 seconds – no longer, because you don’t want the flesh to get soft; it just makes the peaches harder to handle when you slice them. Then fish them out and set them aside on your work counter.
If your peaches are ripe, you shouldn’t have to drop them into a bowl of ice water, after their boiling water bath, as is often recommended. I just wait a minute, then pinch the skins and peel them right off. Works like a charm.
The best part, of course, is that for a little extra effort, you get to keep ALL of your expensive peach flesh, which you clearly would not if you peel peaches like the typical home peach peeler peels peaches. Please refer to the photos below. The first photo shows the remnants of your typical 3-peach, paring knife peeling session.
Now, compare that mountain of scraps to the tiny one generated by our FOUR peach BLANCHING session, below. Given the cost of fresh fruit, which peaches would you rather make your pie with?
Having made my point, a little about this luscious Fresh Peach Crumb Pie. Yes, another crumb pie. I’m hopelessly hooked on crumb topped pies, unapologetically so. I had a call yesterday from a reporter at The New York Times who is working on a pie story for their July 4th food section. I confessed to her that, while I like double crust pies, I’m addicted to crumb toppings. I always have been. I don’t think she thought I was a lost cause because of it – or at least, if she did, she didn’t say so – and I thought that was nice of her.
I hope you’ll go buy some peaches and make this pie. Now, while we’re blessed with good local peaches. And please – don’t forget to blanch!