It’s that time of year when my favorite fruits are in season! Stone fruits are my favorites, but they are very often hard and tasteless. I’ve tried to ripen them on the counter, but the desert air isn’t conducive. They tend to dry up and decay without reaching any stage of ripeness. Now, I think I’ve found the answer, so there will be many more peach pies in my future. The peaches need to be clean and dry, placed on a cloth and then covered with another cloth, encasing the peaches. I was told not to use terry towels, just woven cotton. It worked! After 2 to 3 days, the peaches were soft, smelled like peaches and ripened to perfection. I tried leaving a few on the counter at the same time as a test, but those withered and, while soft, they weren’t the juicy softness of ripeness.
I used a few twists in my peach pie, and hope you try them. You need a two-crust dough and yes, I cheat, I no longer make my own pie crust! First, loosen the peach skin by dropping in boiling water for about 2 minutes, scooping them out and putting them in an ice bath. After 5 minutes or so, the skin should peel right off. Put the peach slices in a bowl, and instead of lemon juice, try some balsamic vinegar. Don’t worry, the aroma of the vinegar dissipates while baking, leaving behind a sweet and tangy flavor. I had orange blossom balsamic vinegar, so I went with orange extract in the pie instead of vanilla. Just mix all the filling ingredients, and let it sit for 15 minutes before assembling your pie. Dot the peaches with butter, add the top crust and bake.
If you haven’t tried balsamic on your fruit, what are you waiting for? Balsamic and fresh mint is delicious on melon. One of our favorites is strawberries macerated in balsamic, honey and fresh cracked pepper, then served over crushed almond cookies or vanilla wafers with a scoop of fresh whipped cream.
Ingredients for Peach Pie
Two pie crusts
6 peaches (my pie plate is small, not a deep-dish pan)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon orange extract
pinch of salt and pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then lower oven to 350 and bake for about 40 more minutes.