One America Homemade Maple Syrup Peaches
What happened was that my peach tree nearly toppled over with the weight of its fruit this weekend. Which was a big surprise, as I recall my disbelief at the point of its purchase two years ago that one could even grow peaches in Vermont. Who had ever heard of a Zone 4 peach?
Anyway, this happy development disrupted my fledgling blog-flow (get inspired of a Friday, write over the weekend, post on Monday). And all I did all weekend – besides gardening, chicken tending, laundry, house cleaning, getting the in-law suite ready for the in-laws, cooking, baking, painting my daughter’s bedroom, and parenting while my husband made Sapling Evaporators – was think about these lovely peaches. And not climate change. Rather like reading a novel instead of your history textbook. Or eating cake instead of bread. Or having a weekend instead of continuing to work. Sort-of.
So, having not done my climate-change homework, I’ll pass this recipe on, instead. Climate change is sill going to be there next week. I’m pretty sure.
Peaches have a special place in my heart. I spent part of my childhood in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. My brothers and I had a babysitter named Linda. She had a homestead way out in Harper’s Ferry, where she raised a gaggle of boys. (You may have read about Harper’s Ferry in that history textbook.) Linda kept to the house unless someone needed her, but us kids had free reign of the farm. And the peaches. The kind you can barely eat for juiciness. The kind that gets all over your face no matter how tidy you’re trying to be. We had peaches many ways at Linda’s. But one of the best, on a hot day, was frozen and blended with a little water. Linda called it the peach freeze. It was the taste of summer.
And then there were Grandma Jeanette’s canned peaches. Served for dessert whenever we were in Aberdeen. Perfect halves, flawlessly skinned, in heavy syrup, preserved in half-gallon mason jars. Grandpa Stan fetched them from the cellar slowly and carefully while we anticipated. Brought the South Dakota summer to any time of the year, over the years, first for my husband, then for us both, and then for our family.
So I picked my peaches this weekend – every last one of them – eating some while still warm from the sun. They weren’t quite the West Virginia peaches or South Dakota peaches of my youth. Nor are they Pennsylvania or Georgia peaches, I’d imagine. That’s what you get with a Zone 4 peach, I’ve heard. But they are fresh. And, this weekend, I canned them in my own homemade maple syrup. Bringing a little Vermont to the peach. Expressing solidarity with peach country. Sending a bit of sweetness South and West, into the past, and into the future.
Here’s to hoping someone remembers my peaches fondly someday and passes it on.
Wash your peaches and freeze for at least one hour on a jelly-roll pan or other sheet pan with a lip. Run under cold water and slip off the skins. Half and pit the peaches, placing them directly into clean jars. Boil a mixture of four-parts water to one-part homemade maple syrup. Pour boiling mixture over peaches to 1/2″ of top. Affix lids. Can in a hot water bath for 20 minutes, cool, and store.