Last week, my favorite farmer, Dave from Beechwood Orchards, brought the last of his peach harvest to the Headhouse Farmers Market.
He posted signs all over his booth saying “Free Peaches” and explained to everyone that he couldn’t guarantee the quality because it was so late in the season, but he needed to get rid of the peaches.
“Take as many as you can carry! You are not being greedy; you are helping me out because I do not want to truck these back to the farm.” Eager to be of service, I filled a large bag of peaches and toted them home.
And then I thought: What the heck am I going to do with all of these?
I mulled it over for a bit, and came up with the idea of making a huge vat of peach compote. This enabled me to freeze the stuff in batches for the future, and pull it out when I want to top a pound cake with a taste of summer. Or accompany a cheese plate with something special. Or fill a tart. Or jazz up oatmeal. Pancakes. Vanilla ice cream. Cheese cake. You get the picture.
When the compote was done, I just portioned it out in Tupperware containers and Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. Now I’m saving them for the proverbial rainy day.
The idea of peeling two dozen peaches was not tempting to me, but I recalled a trick that my mother — a prolific and prize-winning pie baker — uses. She immerses the whole peaches in boiling water for a minute, then rinses them under cool water. The peels come off easily; most of the time you can just rip them off with your hands. So that was step one.
Then I moved on to the actual compote. I have scaled this recipe back to a manageable amount; in reality, I made four times this much.
Makes about 4 cups
6 large, ripe peaches, peeled, and chopped into bite sizes pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring them to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure there is enough liquid in the pan to avoid burning the peaches.
Remove the mixture from the heat, cool and use as desired. This keeps in the fridge for a week or so and in the freezer for several months.