Fresh and fuzzy peaches
Unfortunately, these beauties are one of the most sprayed fruits in the US. So, always wash and peel (sigh, as if that really does anything) and buy organic (ask the farmer if they are chemical-free!) whenever possible! Below, I have a lacto-fermented peach chutney recipe for you. But, first — a story.
About three years ago, I moved to Western NC to work at a silent, contemplative retreat center in the Appalachian mountains. I spent a lot of time going on walks and getting to the know the forest and its layered canopy. One of the interesting things I discovered were to seriously healthy peach trees. They bore small, white-flesh peaches that were terribly sweet. Both of them were located along the road-side at the edge of the forest. So, they both had partial shade and were surrounded by a host of other trees. The peaches had some blemishes, but for the most part…they were very healthy. And, that is a lot to say about peaches in the South because they are literally devoured by pests before you can eat them…if you don’t spray them with chemicals.
This had me thinking about the proper integration of peach trees into a permaculture system of canopies and layers. I made a mental note to myself after those tree sightings to only plant a peach tree amongst other trees , near a forest.
I actually saved seeds from one of the trees. I put them in the fridge to Winter over and then one actually sprouted in a bag of soil I placed outside my cabin. Today, my little tree (even after being chomped on by a deer) is about 3 feet high and healthy as ever. I’ve got her out back waiting for the perfect place to put her. Of course, planting a fruit tree by seed; well, you never know what you’ll get or if the fruits will even be tasty and edible. However, to me — it’s worth a try.
Chutney ready for fermentation!
Lacto-fermented Peach Chutney
(slightly adapted from Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions”)
Makes 1 quart
3 cups peeled and cut peaches (add mango if you want!)
1/2 cup well or filtered water
grated rind of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1/8 cup organic cane sugar, Rapadura, or coconut sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup whey
1/2 chopped crispy pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried rose petals
Mix water, lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar, salt and whey. Peel fruit and cut up into lemon juice mixture. Mix in nuts, raisins, herbs and spices and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Press down lightly with a wooden pounder or spoon, adding more water if necessary to cover the fruit. The mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to the fridge. This should be eaten within 2 months.
I don’t spray and have a small orchard The only peaches that ever gave me fruit were from a pit that was tossed out and grew up in the lilac bushes near the house . It too was killed by borers a few years later but now I welcome volunteers and hope one day I will get some peaches again You never know from one year to the next which fruits will do well. You just need to be grateful and put some by for the future when there is an abundance. .
I have two that I started from pits and am waiting to see what they do. One of the older ones bore fruit this year, but not sizable fruits and they were eaten up pretty quickly by critters. Will wait and see what happens next year…