I've always liked peaches. I grew up in California where there was always fruit growing. My father, however, never went to great pains to feed us kids fruit. During his time in Vietnam, he learned to cook. His creations were famous around our neighborhood. All our friends knew what we were having for dinner. Slop. Slop #49. Slop #33. Yet, they still wanted to eat over at our place. I wonder why. I always thought the grey gelatinous concoctions were gross. Bubbling slowly at the bottom of the big pot on our stove. The worst was when he'd add canned mushrooms.Yuck! Just yuck!
The kinds of fruit my dad would buy were bananas, apples, and oranges. That was it. Oh, and sometimes grapes. Never berries, never tropical fruits like mangoes or pineapples, and never peaches. But, when my mom would take us kids to Utah to stay with our grandparents, we got to taste things like cherries, apricots, peaches, raspberries, and blackberries. My grandfather was a product of the Depression, so he grew a little bit of everything, "just in case". My brothers and I, during the hot summer afternoons of boredom, would raid the root cellar and bring up jars of fruit to make smoothies. When we made nasty ones, we'd never admit we didn't like them. Whatever we made, we liked. My grandparents and aunts were health nuts. They didn't have an ounce of chocolate in the house, but they had carob powder. Our smoothies were full of the stuff.
So, thankfully the Depression pushed my grandfather to grow his own peaches. I love them so much. I love how you can tell if they are ripe or not by their smell and how they feel. You can't fake a ripe peach. Maybe I love them because they are a lot like me. I'm not so great at faking things. And grocery stores can't fake a ripe peach. I don't even know why people buy those hard things. Maybe the people that buy them are just hoping. Hoping that someday, a ripe peach will appear in the produce section.
Last year, we bought our first house. Behind the chain link fence in our backyard are rows and rows of peach trees. Right now the leaves are abundant and there is green everywhere. I've bought three boxes of peaches so far. Red Haven, and Suncrest. Before this year, I didn't even know the names of the different varieties. The owner of the orchard attends our church. We see him pruning in late winter. Tree by tree, he snips off bits and pieces to keep the shape under control. It's pretty amazing how one man can control the outcome and oversee such a wonderful operation. Yes, yes, I know there are other people. In fact, whenever I call on the phone, his wife answers. She relays all the messages and probably does a ton of stuff too. It's a family business.
So, the purpose of my post today is in honor of peaches. Last year my friend, Patricia Miller, taught me to bottle peaches. This year, I'm doing it on my own. Who isn't doing things on their own this year?