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Summer is peach season, and peach season should be enjoyed to the fullest. For advice, we turned to Stephen and Jessica Rose, the husband-and-wife duo behind Nashville’s Peach Truck.
Summer is peach season, and peach season should be enjoyed to the fullest. For advice, we turned to Stephen and Jessica Rose, the husband-and-wife duo behind Nashville’s Peach Truck. Since moving to Nashville in 2012, the Roses have dedicated their summers to delivering tree-ripened Georgia peaches straight from the source (Pearson Farms in Fort Valley, GA). What makes these peaches special, besides the naturally dense, mineral-rich Georgia soil they grew up in, is Pearson Farm's insistence on thinning their trees—which means 500 peaches receive the nutrients that would otherwise go to 3,000. Once they’re ripe, The Peach Truck takes them to Nashville, where they almost immediately sell out. According to Stephen, they’ve sold well over a million peaches to date, and several customers have honored their efforts with Peach Truck-inspired tattoos.
If you’ll be in Nashville between now and the end of August, you can track the whereabouts of their hunter-green 1963 Jeep Gladiator and visit them in person. If you’ll be elsewhere and have $40 burning a hole in your pocket, you can have them FedEx you a case. Either way, you should get yourself some fresh peaches and try one the Roses' next-level peach ideas.
Pickle some peaches. This has dual benefits: It allows you to preserve peaches for a later date, and it also adds a layer of piquant tang on top of the peach’s sweetness. Look for a recipe with cider vinegar to add a bright acidity that’ll vault like Mary Lou Retton off some fresh whipped cream. If you want to pair the peaches with a stinky cheese like taleggio, stud them with cloves and allspice before pickling. (And if you want to live my current food fantasy, stack the taleggio and pickled peaches on a toasted ciabatta roll. Add basil to taste.)
Light a grill. This one might be obvious, but it's absolutely worth doing. Grilling adds a satisfying char; it caramelizes the peach's outer layer so your first bite is extra sweet; and it raises the fruit’s temperature to intensify the sweetness inside. Prolonged exposure to heat will cause the peach’s cell walls to break down, turning it into a mush, so cook it fast and hot. Once it’s off the grill, top it with a dollop of clotted cream or ricotta and drizzle on some honey.
Make a shrub. One of the worst crimes known to man is letting summer peaches go bad. If you bought more than you can handle and are looking for a way to use them, try making a shrub. Shrubs are fruit and vinegar-based syrups (sometimes called “drinking vinegars”) that can be consumed on their own but work well as a sophisticated, slightly sour mixer. Mix one part sugar with two parts chopped peaches and let them cohabitate for a day or two in the refrigerator. Once the sugar has dissolved, add one part apple cider vinegar, a few sprigs of mint, and return to the fridge for another 4 or 5 days, or until the sweet and sour balance is to your liking. When it’s ready, strain the fruit and pour the shrub into jars. For a super-simple cocktail, dilute it with sparkling water and spike it with gin.
Infuse some whiskey. If you’re a Bourbon snob and insist on drinking the stuff unsullied, don’t read this. Everyone else should make peach-infused Bourbon, because it’s easy and combines two historic staples of the Southern diet. Start by cutting your peaches into quarters, skin-on (3 or 4 should do the trick), and placing them at the bottom of a big glass jar. Then add two tablespoons of sugar, two whole cloves and three allspice berries before filling the jar with a bottle of good-quality Bourbon. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight and let the peaches steep for 7 to 10 days. Strain the peaches and spices with a cheesecloth, take a swig of your newly-infused whiskey and put the peaches on top of some vanilla ice cream.
Make a BLP (bacon, lettuce and peach). If you want to sweeten up your summer sandwich game, try subbing out tomatoes for peaches. While peaches don’t have the umami and acid of a fresh tomato, their luxuriant sweetness is amazing with with the fattiness of the bacon. To enhance this fatty-sweet combo, you’ll want to be patient and wait till your peaches are extra ripe and juicy.
Add peaches and ham to your mac and cheese. Peach goes well with ham, and ham goes well with pasta. By the transitive property of food, peach also goes well with pasta. If you balk at the idea of fruit and pasta releasing a posse of awkward turtles on your taste buds, think of the traditional pear-and-gorgonzola combination. The fresh sweetness of a slightly under-ripe peach will cradle the saltiness of a bold cheese like pecorino or gorgonzola. Then the ham will enter stage-left to balance things and keep the sweet, pungent taste-embrace from getting out of hand. The pasta (or stale bread if you want to make the Rose family strata recipe) acts as a starchy canvas.