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Just peachy

Enjoy the bounty of the fall harvest with these new ways to use peaches

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Recipes Featured In This Article

Peach jambalaya

Peach jambalaya will fill the air with a pleasant creole ambrosia. ...

Peach purée

Use this peach purée in Field Guide's peach julep....

Peach julep

Toggle this recipe to the season for a year-round crowd pleaser. In cool months use baking...

Grilled peach

This recipe calls for the use of freestone peaches rather than clingstones. When you cut o...

Nova Scotians have cultivated peaches for centuries, but recently Annapolis Valley farmers have successfully adopted stone fruits as a regular crop. And increasingly, peaches are finding their way onto grills and into cocktails.

Along the pastoral side roads of Aylesford, N.S., you’ll find David Bowlby’s Dempsey’s Corner Orchards. A fifth-generation farmer on his family farm, that existed without electricity longer than it has had it, Bowlby understands the ambition involved with growing peaches in a climate featuring harsh winters and short summers.

The first go wasn’t easy. He lost half his planting because he hadn’t installed a drainage tile. Peach tree roots or “feet,” he says, are a “finicky princess.” The trees need sandy soil and easy drainage to thrive and will die quickly in saturated soil. That’s not to say it can’t be done. The sun hits the Valley in a dry and sustained blast all summer and often rewards the patient fruit farmer with fat juicy peaches.

If you’re not picking your own, there’s always a chance you’ll make it home with under-ripe stone fruit. Bowlby says this isn’t the end of the world. He suggests placing the fruit in a brown paper bag with a ripe banana, a cabbage leaf, or even an onion. The key is a fruit or vegetable that is emitting a smell. “That smell is the gas that is emitted when it ripens, called ethylene, which is absorbed by the peach and will ripen it overnight,” he says. Once your peaches are ripe, try Bowlby’s recipes: Peach cheesecake bars and Peach jambalaya.

Keegan MacGregor is the head bartender at Field Guide, a Halifax restaurant specializing in cocktails. An inventive mixologist, MacGregor uses all parts of the fruit in his cocktails. His new fall menu includes a drink made by turning the delicious husk of a pineapple into tepache, a carbonated soda. Past experiments saw him pureeing stone fruit into cocktails like peach juleps and plum Bellinis. This tip-to-tail approach to cocktails produces an interesting variety of tastes (see his recipes here).

In Deep South peach country, home chef Blake Andrews makes room on the grill next to steaks for grilled peaches. Originally from Sydney, N.S., and a current resident of Marietta, Ga., just north of Atlanta, Andrews embraces the slowness and succulence of Southern fare. “Unfortunately,” he says, “peaches are at their peak ripeness for like 20 minutes.”

Andrews says the benefit of cooking desserts with peaches is that they require virtually no sugar. Unlike the pies, cobblers, and trifles that dominate peach baking, he explains that a grilled peach makes a succulent, melt-off-the-end-of-your-fork dessert without any added sugar or gluten (find his recipe here).

“If they’re not ripe,” he warns, “they have a mealy cardboard consistency and if they’re overripe, they’re all squishy and just messy. Getting a perfectly ripened peach is a gift from heaven.”

HOW TO EAT A PEACH

Farmer David Bowlby says the best way to enjoy a peach is right off the tree. “Rub the peach fuzz off with a swiping motion with the palm of your hand,” he says. “Stick your butt out so you are bent over a bit and take a big bite. Juice all over your chin means you are doing it right.”

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