Every year, we wait patiently for the freestone peaches to be perfectly ripe so we can begin making preserves, brandied peaches, and peach pies. Freestone peaches are the best to cook with because the fruit comes easily away from the pit. Cling peaches, the ones with fruit that sticks to the pit, generally ripen a couple of weeks earlier than freestones. There are several cultivars of each kind–some sweeter and juicier than others.
This year, warm, rainy weather across the South has accelerated the growing seasons. The mayhaws, which are supposed to be ripe in May, were all harvested by mid-April. And the cling peaches, which we usually get in June, were already ripening in mid-May.
Looks like the freestones season is about to begin! Please leave alerts about where you are finding the best peaches this year in the comments section!
Peach Pie Recipe after the jump!
Texas Peach Pie (from Texas Eats by Robb Walsh)
Some years, the small, but intensely-flavored peaches grown in the orchards of the Hill Country are the best in the state. Other years, big, juicy East Texas peaches are the sweetest ones on the market. It all depends on where the rain falls and when the frost hits. But because of high local demand, Texas peaches aren’t marketed outside of the state. Use the sweetest, ripest peaches you can find,–preferably freestones.
6 cups peeled, pitted, and sliced peaches (about 8 peaches)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons minute tapioca
3 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pastry for double-crust pie
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, for serving
Toss the sliced peaches in a large mixing bowl with the tapioca, lemon juice, salt, sugar, butter, nutmeg and brown sugar. Cover the fruit mixture with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed against its surface to prevent oxidation, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of pastry dough into a 13-inch round circle about 1/8 -inch thick. Drape 1 round around the rolling pin, carefully transfer it to line a 10-inch pie pan, and fit it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the overhang excess to the edge of the pan. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with the egg white. Pour the fruit mixture into the pie shell, being careful not to fill the shell crust more than even with the rim edge of the pan. Cover the fruit with the second round piece of dough and tuck the overhang underneath the edges of the bottom crust. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges, and brush with the remaining leftover egg white. Using a small, sharp knife, cut 3 or 4 steam vents in the top crust.
Bake the pie for about 1 hour, on the bottom shelf of the oven until the crust is golden-brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Let the pie cool on a rack before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream.