The seasons are changing! Time flies by so quickly, and it seems like it was only yesterday that we were welcoming summer. Then again, as cool and wet as the weather was these past couple of months, it seemed like we only had a day or two of hot, summer weather. I hope that this strange summer weather didn’t ruin any of your summer plans. But now vacations are over, the kids are back in school and the western slope peach harvest is coming to an end, so it must be autumn.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, autumn is my favorite season of the year. The harvest of the fields and the bounty of the farmers markets, vine ripened tomatoes, sweet corn, cantaloupe, summer squash and peaches. Oh how I love peaches, especially Colorado grown peaches. I remember one time when I was young, my mother had bought a case of fresh tree ripened peaches to can or freeze. She made the mistake of putting me and the case of peaches in the back of the pick-up truck while running a few more errands in town. (Yes, that was back in the day when we could ride in the back of the pick-up and not get in trouble.) I remember eating peach after sweet, drippy, succulent peach, they were so good. Then when we got home my mother discovered to her total disbelief that almost all of the case of peaches was gone. Only a few were left to be put away for winter.
I still love fresh peaches; peach cobbler, fresh peach salsa, peach pie and nothing beats standing over the sink, eating a drippy ripe peach from the hand.
Peaches were first cultivated in China and then were introduced to Europe via Persia in the time of the Greeks and Romans. They were then brought over to the new world in the 17th Century, but they didn’t really thrive until they were introduced into the southern colonies.
Peach production in Colorado first started in the late 1800’s, but really took off in the fruit orchards around Grand Junction. Peaches from this area have become famous because a unique blend of natural factors. Cold winters, long hot and dry summers, rich volcanic soil and ample fresh water for irrigation from the Colorado River contribute to the production of a peach that has intense and superior flavor.
I wait all year for that short window of opportunity to present its self for what I consider the jewel of the orchard, a fresh peach from western Colorado.