Thursday, August 16, 2012

Everything is peachy

This peach tree which was planted in the chicken yard 3 years ago, has grown so fast that the branches are bowed over and almost lay on the ground.  Early on in the season I tried removing the fruit so that they were all a hand's breadth apart. This should allow for bigger, healthier fruit. Looking at it now that the fruit is larger, I see that I wasn't very diligent.  There are many areas of clumps of fruit. I also failed to prune the tree, resulting in too much growth.  I read recently that if the branches are bowed too much it releases a hormone that prevents the tree from fruiting next year.  I was so excited at how much it had grown, I didn't want to prune it.  Ahh well, live and learn.   
In order to grow anything in the chicken yard I wrap chicken wire in large circle around the base to prevent the girls from scratching and killing the roots.  I have great luck growing anise hyssop, which smell wonderful and the hens don't like to eat.  As long as the base is protected it grows great. It is very drought tolerant as well. 
(The first photo is not from my garden, it's just a great shot of hyssop)


Those are the hyssops in the background, they have gotten quite a bit larger since this picture

Here you can see that these peaches are not a hand's breadth apart.  It is hard to tell from the photos but many of the peaches are tiny. 

There are still many big fat juicy ones though, just in time to start making peach pies!   I use Martha Stewart's wonderful Pate Brisee pie crust recipe and Cooks Illustrated's filling.  
First you blanch the peaches for easy peeling.  (This works amazing well.)  Then pit and slice them, and toss them with lemon juice sugar and a pinch of salt.  I used less than half the sugar and it still tasted a little on the sweet side.
Cooks Illustrated has tested out several ways to create the perfect filling, juicy but not too runny.  It tested flour, tapioca corn starch and potato starch added to the peaches for thickening.  They concluded that potato starch is by far the best with crushed tapioca second.  I didn't have any potato starch on hand and although it is not the same thing, I used potato flour. 

The photo does not do this pie justice.  It is amazing served warm with vanilla ice cream, or with a pinch of heavy cream drizzled over the top. Perfection! 

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