Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Bucket List: Pick Peaches!

Last weekend, Dave and I decided to tackle one of our bucket list items - picking peaches!

We go to Carter Mountain every summer and fall (sometimes multiple times) and it is the cutest place!  You can walk into the orchard and pick peaches in the summer and apples in the winter, plus they have the Apple Barn, which houses an ice cream shop, wine shop, a store with crafts and peach/apple-reated grocery items, and already-picked bins of fruit.

Usually we leave with a bottle of wine, some apple cider donuts, and some other stuff depending on the season.

Unfortunately, I checked Facebook on the way to Charlottesville, and saw this:

Apparently the peaches had been over picked by visitors, and they wanted to allow the new fruit on the trees a few more days before letting people back into the orchard.  Sooooo, no picking for us.

Whatever, we're counting it! :)  We picked up a 1/2 peck of peaches (=~20 peaches), some donuts, and a bottle of peach bbq sauce which we plan to use to marinate some grilled chicken breasts.  The donuts didn't make it home - they're lucky they made it to the car!

Fast forward a few days, I finally got my act together to use those peaches - turning them into a peach pie!  I used about 10 peaches, and the first step was to blanch them to get the skins off:

To blanch them, I boiled a pot of water and had a big bowl of ice water right next to the pot (both need to be deep enough to fully immerse the peach).   Before dropping them in the boiling water, I used a paring knife to cut an X at one end to score the skin - this just makes it easier to start the peeling process once they're blanched.

Leave them in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then immediately put them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  I did 3 or 4 peaches at a time so I wouldn't get ahead of myself, and once they had cooled in the ice bath, the skin just peeled off - awesome!

Then I chopped them all up - 10 peaches yielded about 5 cups after they were sliced.

To turn the peaches into peach pie filling, I added sugar, flour, and cinnamon, per this recipe.

Time for the bottom crust!  Remember last summer when I make some "perfect pie crusts" based on Jo's recipe from Miller Farms?  I put those babies in the freezer, and then we had a hurricane that spoiled everything in our fridge/ we'll never know how those really turned out.  Since I didn't have any pie crusts waiting in the freezer and I was too lazy to make more, I used refrigerated crusts.  And I'm not ashamed - Pillsbury makes a lot of money doing what they do, so who am I to take it upon myself to outdo them?  I won't. :)

I always use my rolling pin to help me get the bottom crust into the pan - just use it to fold the crust in half so it doesn't break in your hands during transfer.  Then I poured in the filling - the recipe called for pats of butter on top of the filling, but I left that out:

The top crust took a little more effort :)  I like the look of lattice, so I wanted to try it again.  Previous attempts have not been so successful - read: failed.  This time I used a straight edge to help me create the strips with the pastry wheel, rather than eyeballing it - so I didn't end up with 1 4-inch wide strip and 1 2-inch wide strip.  Yep, I screwed it up that bad! :)

Once my strips were cut I started layering them, lifting up strips as necessary to create the lattice:

Then trim off the pieces hanging over, and seal the edges:

Then sprinkled some sugar on top of the crust - the recipe called for 2 tbsp. of sugar, but I did less than half.  That's a lot of sugar!  I put my trusty Pampered Chef pie crust shield on top, to prevent the crust from cooking too quickly, and threw it in the 425 degree oven:

Cook it for 30 minutes, take the pie ring off, then cook it for another 15 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling!

All done:

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