Peachy Keen on the Western Slope Harvest

I have to start by flat-out admitting that I’m a snob when it comes to peaches. In my opinion, you won’t find anything that comes close to the peaches grown on the Western Slope of Colorado.

I worked for a while for a university in Alabama. It was located close to the Georgia border. Down south, they labor under the false impression that Georgia peaches are the best.

Now I know I’m treading on dangerous ground and I certainly don’t want to start a new civil war, but seriously folks, the Georgia peaches are just okay.

One September, I stayed at an Alabama bed and breakfast that served Georgia peaches – with a lot of fanfare – every morning for breakfast. I approached them with an open mind.

I bit into a peach only to find it hard and fairly tasteless. Probably just one that wasn’t ripe, I thought. I tried another. Same thing. And the next morning, with a new batch of peaches, I was underwhelmed again.

I was trying to be open-minded, so I chalked it up to a bad batch. I went to the grocery and bought a couple of peaches. I even asked for help in picking good ones. I took my peaches back to the B & B where I ceremoniously washed them, sliced into one and prepared to bite into juicy sweetness.

Not so much. No juice. No sweetness. It tasted more like a hard nectarine.

Now I’ll acknowledge that I was homesick, missing Colorado like all get-out. Maybe that colored my opinion just a little. All I know is that I wanted to get back home before I missed out on the year’s crop of peaches. (In case you don’t know it, the peaches come in during August and they’re delicious.)

I like to buy mine direct from the grower at the Farmer’s Market. It’s become a much-loved, end-of-summer routine. Every week there is a different variety. Who knew there were so many kinds of peaches?

I step up to the sales table and plunk down my money for a medium-sized bag of peaches. Like Goldilocks, I’ve learned that the small bags are too small and the large ones are too big for the two of us. But medium is just right. That way I can go every week to get more.

Sometimes during the season, I’ll buy a box – that’s 25 pounds of peaches – and either freeze or can them. It’s another seasonal routine I love, because when I open them in winter, eating a peach from Colorado’s Western Slope is like biting into a taste of heaven.

I think the best way to enjoy them is straight from the bag, still warm from the sun on the table. You get an explosion of sweetness, and so much juice that it runs down your arm. If you close your eyes you can almost see the red cliffs surrounding the orchards, the sun warming the leaves on each tree, lines of dusty roads and boxes of peaches being lifted onto trucks.

All that from one bite!

One Sunday, I made a peach cobbler from my stash from the farmer’s market. OMG! It was delicious.

I also like to serve fresh peaches with a topping made from sour cream and brown sugar. Peaches Romanoff we call them. I got the recipe long ago from my friend Rebecca, who served it over green grapes.

I promise you this: the topping transforms any fruit to a decadent dessert. Strawberries, cherries, grapes, and yes, especially peaches! Just stir a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar into some sour cream until it is dissolved. And then put a healthy dollop on the fruit of your choice. You’ll swoon. And your guests will think you’ve made something really extravagant. (You have!)

Get yourself to one of our many farmer’s markets and indulge in peaches from the Western Slope.

To my Georgia friends, I’m sorry. Can we still be friends?

Jean McBride lives in Fort Collins, Colorado and is a therapist at Colorado Center for Life Changes, ColoradoCenterForLifeChanges.com, 970.407.0463.