The perks of extreme summer heat come in many forms. Bathing suits as everyday attire and midday margarita consumption become more socially acceptable. Small talk becomes easier, as you can add “can you believe how hot its been” to your repertoire.
At the top of the list? It might just be the fact that it's now peach season, and all the associated sweet, fuzzy, juicy deliciousness that tags along behind it.
If you're lazy, you can just book it over to your closest super market and buy yourself a bushel of peaches. And yeah, they may taste great, but they lack the soul of peaches purchased from the person who tended to the fruit as if it were their own child. Nothing tastes more soulful than eating produce raised like a child.
Want soulful peaches? The easiest thing to do is to hit up your neighborhood farmers' market. Too easy for you? Want to make a day of of it? Head straight to the source.
Roughly 40% of Texas' peachy keenness grows right next door to Austin, in Gillespie County. The center of this operation? A little destination called Fredericksburg, TX. There are a number of shops and farms where you can purchase freshly harvested peaches or pick peaches yourself. And, of course — as most Central Texans know — there are a plethora of wineries to explore for post-harvest libations.
After rolling out of the Fredericksburg city limits in a Rip Van Winkle-esque haze with trunk full of peaches, you might wonder “what am I going to do with all these peaches?” If you're already tired of peach cobbler, here are a few new takes on the Southern summer's favorite fruit.
Slice a ripe peach and throw it into a blender with three shots of tequila. Add a shot of lime juice, a pinch of cayenne, a dash of triple sec and half a cup of ice. Blend. Sip. Enjoy.
Bourbon Peach Preserves
Take a dozen sliced large ripe peaches and throw them in a pot with a quarter cup of bourbon, a half tablespoon of molasses, a quarter cup of dried currants and two cups of brown sugar. Bring to a boil and add a 2-ounce package of fruit pectin. Stir in the pectin and remove from heat. Transfer the preserves to some mason jars and keep them in the fridge until you've eaten them all. It should only take you about a week.
Peel and dice four ripe peaches. Add a diced jalapeño, a diced quarter of red onion, a splash of lime juice, a bit of honey and some chopped cilantro. Mix well and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes so the various flavors can all become good friends. Great with chips, this salsa is absolutely killer on pork tacos.
Halve two ripe peaches and liberally sprinkle them with sugar. Fill the centers with butter. Place the four halves on a baking sheet and stick them under a broiler until the sugar is caramelized and the peaches are tender. Serve them on top of vanilla ice cream and sink happily into a food coma.
If you find yourself with a surplus of peaches and no means of disposing them, take the time to slice and freeze them. That way come January — when you're cold and no longer peached out — you'll have plenty to make all the various peach delicacies and remember a time when it was too hot to move.
For a full list of the Hill Country's finest peach stands, visit www.texaspeaches.com.