Perhaps the most exciting occurrence this year at Orchard Gardens happened in the orchard. Fruits! Most of the trees in our small orchard were planted as bare root whips 7 years ago. After years of pruning, watering, feeding and watching, they are looking big, healthy and most importantly, productive. The most prolific trees this year are the peaches and plums.
Unfortunately, I have no idea what variety of peach these trees are, but I can tell you they are delicious and juicy. We have been harvesting them over the last couple weeks and offering them for sale to our CSA and farm stand customers. Next up will be plums. All of our plums are types of Italian prune plums. Delightful, little flavor bombs which are excellent baked or dried, but also perfect for eating out of hand.
There has been a steep learning curve for me in the tree fruit department. Unless you count marauding various alley trees for apricots, plums and apples, all of my experience before landing at Orchard Gardens had been in vegetable production. I still have lots to learn about pruning and even more to learn about pest management. The fantastic thing about an orchard is that barring unforeseen disaster in the form of disease, lightening or very poor management, it will only get more and more productive. And with more skills up my sleeve, the fruit will only get more and more beautiful. Even now, with insect damage and small fruits, the peaches and the pears are so very pretty, they nearly bring me to tears. I could spend endless hours adoring their colorful promise of sweetness.
I found a super easy peach dessert recipe here at the Smitten Kitchen. Almond-crisped peaches. They are good for your gluten-free friends.
Also, I threw together some peach salsa the other night to have with flank steak tacos. We didn’t have any cilantro, so I used tarragon and parsley. Tarragon turned out to be the key ingredient. Who knew?
PIECE-MEAL PEACH SALSA
2-4 peaches, depending on size, peeled*, pitted and roughly chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 small bunch each tarragon and parsley, stems removed and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 hot pepper, minced
2 roasted and peeled Anaheim peppers*, roughly chopped
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Let flavors meld while you assemble the rest of your meal or overnight.
*Peeling peaches is an extremely pleasurable experience. If they are truly ripe, the peels will slide off fairly easily. Or a fail-safe method is to submerge the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds or so, until the skin slips off easily, cool and peel.
*To roast pepper, I put them under the broiler, checking frequently and turning as the surface blackens. When the entire surface is well blackened, remove from broiler, place in brown paper bag and let steam and cool. The peels should now pull away easily from the flesh.