“We abound in the Luxury of the Peach.”
- Thomas Jefferson to Martha Randolph, August 31, 1815
Along with tomatoes, I await peach season, specifically for freestone peaches since they make preparing peaches for pies, preserves, ice cream, etc. so much easier.
Thomas Jefferson grew over thirty eight different varieties of peaches in his South Orchard at Monticello. George Washington, never the “completist” as Jefferson, only noted having two varieties of peaches at Mount Vernon.
The peach was probably introduced from Europe to southern North America by either Spanish or French explorers in the mid 16th century where it moved north. John Smith noted that peach trees were in Jamestown around 1629. William Penn found them near Philadelphia in 1683. Peach trees had naturalized so abundantly by the beginning of the 18th century that British explorer, naturalist and writer John Lawson noted that peach trees grew like weeds.
Peach pies were far from the minds of colonial America. While I would guess that they were eaten, peaches went to fed hogs on many Virginia plantations. Typical of those heady, alcohol-fueled days, peaches were fermented into cider or distilled into brandy.
Since I have included pie dough recipes and directions in earlier posts, I skip them here but they are easily accessible.
For one 9” double crust pie
6 cups peeled, sliced ripe peaches (about 1 ½ quarts or about 3 pounds of peaches)
½ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place the sliced peaches and sugar into a bowl and stir. Let the peaches stand for 30 minutes to release some of their juice.
2. Add the cornstarch and cinnamon to the peaches and stir to combine. Pour the peaches and their juice into the prepared pie shell. Cover with the top crust, sealing the edges. Cut a small steam hole into the center of the pie. Place the pie on a baking pan. Place the pie into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower heat to 350 and continue baking for 45 to 55 minutes, until the filling is bubbling. Remove pie from oven and let cool before serving.