Saturday, July 26, 2008

Peaches

When I was a little girl we would go for long drives in our VW van around Pennsylvania and New Jersey (NJ is more than the Sopranos, you know). Sometimes we would go for camping trips with our old canvas tent, look at the stars and stop off at farm stands. Sometimes we'd go to some farmland we owned in rural Pennsylvania. 

At the farm stands we would get tomatoes. Real tomatoes. Red and heavy and tangy and god! were they good. I still have not recovered from my love of Jersey tomatoes bought at farm stands. And peaches. A bushel at a time. We just couldn't resist them. They were so lovely and coy and cheap. The car would be redolent with that scent, warm and sweet. 

As soon as we piled back into the van we would start to ask each other, "What are we going to with all those peaches?" But we knew. We would go back to our campsite or home and eat. I would press the fuzzy flesh to my lips, letting it tickle just a little bit and smell the dusty summer scent. My teeth would press into the fruit and finally break it open in a cascade of juice that ran down my chin and my whole self would be filled with that rush of what it was to be a peach. Yellow and red and wet. 

We'd eat more peaches than we should, until our bellies were round. The bushel basket would still be full of fruit, so we would again ask, "What are we going to do with all those peaches?" But again, we knew. We would bring the peaches back home and make peach butter. More accurately, my mom would make peach butter while I would watch and try to help.

I've had peach butter since. It's never been as good as that my mother made from the bushels of peaches we bought from roadside stands. 

Florence's peach butter recipe. She says she got it from a farmer's wife in Columbia County, PA

Peel your peaches. Give the peels to your waiting child to nibble.
Chunk the peaches. Put them into a heavy-bottomed pot. Toss the pits.
Mush the peaches up and measure them. Add an equal amount of sugar. Cook until everything is soft and smooth. Buttery, you might say. 
Pour the peach butter into sterilized jars and seal (you can find out how to can stuff elsewhere on the net). 
Mmmmm.... Now you have summer all year long.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer

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