Saturday, August 31, 2013

Everything is Just Peachy!

Sometimes it's the simplest things in life that create the most happiness! When we started cleaning up our back yard in Banámichi in 2008, we discovered a long uncared for tree struggling for survival next to the south wall. Upon examination, we discovered it was a small peach tree. We began to water and prune it and generally nurture it back to health.

The original peach tree*
It never occurred to me that a peach tree might grow and actually produce fruit in Mexico. From what I know of peaches, they need a period of cold in the winter in order to do well, and for the first few years, the winters in Banámichi were balmy. Just as I suspected, each year the tree produced a profuse shower of pink and white blossoms in March, then a few gnarly rock hard fruits that promptly fell off the tree, and then....nothing.

Meanwhile,  yet another small peach tree passed through several sets of hands before it landed with me. Always a champion of the underdog, I took pity on the thing and planted it not far from the first one, thinking I would eventually move it to a better spot in the yard. At least it would provide nice shade when the days became intolerably hot.

It grew like crazy, within a year becoming too big to move. But there it sat, also producing nothing. Maybe it was too young. Then, two years ago we had a big cold snap in the winter. I have previously written about the destruction that this caused in the garden. But the winner was the first peach tree! That year it had a bumper crop. The peaches were odd...small and hard and a bit green, but very sweet, very tasty. I harvested all of them and spent hours preparing the little marbles to make peach jam and to freeze the rest for some wonderful pies later in the year.

The next year, the winter was very mild. Once again, the first tree produced a few rock-like little nubbins that the birds finished off before I could see if they were useable. The smaller, newer tree just sat there, apparently too small and discouraged to bother producing anything.

This past winter, Banámichi had a two day cold snap, with nights sinking to 24 degrees. And, WOW!! This summer, BOTH trees have been unbelievably weighed down with fruit. There were peaches hanging in clusters along the branches like grapes!
Peaches or grapes??*

When we were in Banámichi in the middle of the summer, they were just coming into ripeness, but it was still too soon to pick them. It broke my heart to leave those darned peaches after all they and I had been through together. I told various friends to help themselves so at least they would not go to waste, and then forced myself to stop thinking about them.

To my great surprise, our neighbors who share our back yard were there at just the right time and harvested many of the little beauties. They courageously brought them back across the border to Tucson...US customs never even asked, and you know how it is: "Don't ask, don't tell!"  So we had a peach festival right here in my own kitchen! It surprises me  how much happiness that bag of peaches brought and the sweet history it held.
Odd little peaches...about 2" in diameter

Four of us set to work peeling and slicing the peaches.
Slicing and dicing
It was it big project - took 2 solid hours....they were small and hard and seemingly green, but the sticky juice was everywhere and the fragrance permeated the whole house. When we were done, we had enough for 3 large to eat right away, and one for Dan and me, and one for our trusty peach runners!

Filling the pies

Ever health conscious, we used a combination of brown sugar and a product called Whey Low... a form of sugar with fewer calories and a low glycemic index. We seasoned the mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of almond extract. There wasn't quite enough crust to make a complete lattice for the three, but it hardly mattered. No one was in the mood to leave the fragrance and head to the store for more. We kept sneaking peeks as the pikes baked, and could hardly wait for them to cool enough to sample them.

Baked beauty, even if it is missing some strips
It's what inside that counts...


As you can see, the finished result was very much enjoyed by all!!

Yummers! And with ice cream too...
 Thank you cold weather (at least for this little gift!), and thank you peach tree Gods! At least we have this to look forward to if global climate change messes with the Banámichi weather.

* Thanks to Lynn Matthews for these photos!

1 comment:

  1. How lovely! In Bisbee, a similarly discouraged Hale peach which I have been coddling for years and finally decided to neglect entirely gave me an astonishing surprise; I visited the property in late July and first noticed the tree at sunset, the formerly barren little tree was so laden with perfectly ripe fruit that from a distance it didn't even look green but a glowing pink. Perhaps climate change has a few silver linings for us after all.