“Blushing Star,” a new white peach, will debut from Livesay Orchards soon. It is one of several varieties that will be available in what promises to be a beautiful harvest from Porter.
Kent Livesay says, “The crop looks excellent this year with the early spring moisture we had.”
Heading over to Porter for peaches this summer would make a great Oklahoma peach outing.
Just talking with the folks at Livesay Orchards (Oklahoma's largest peach producer) had me salivating for some sweet juicy ripe peaches. I'm talking about running-down-your-chin ripe perfection. If you have enough left over for pie or cobbler, count yourself blessed.
The Livesay family tells me they escaped that late freeze that took a toll on many of our backyard trees in northwest and central Oklahoma. A few central Oklahoma growers tell me their mid- to late-season peaches are still going to be OK.
There are a couple of things you should know about the famed Porter peaches. You can get them at the farm market just south of Porter or at the Peach Barn just south of Wagoner at the intersection of U.S. 69 and State Highway 51B. Either place will have the wonderful Livesay family peaches possibly into October this year. This year's peach season is running about 10 days to two weeks late, according to the Livesays.
If you can't make the drive over to Porter or Wagoner, try your local farmers market. A number of producers round up fresh-picked peaches to take to the market. I found early Porter peaches from Livesay Orchards at OSU-OKC and the Urban Agrarian Market. There also is a new market in downtown Oklahoma City starting at 4 p.m. Wednesdays. It is right across the street from the main Devon Tower entrance on the north side of the Myriad Gardens. Look for the white tent.
Pick the right peach
Why buy Oklahoma peaches? The flavor and the juice. They are far superior to those that were picked far ahead of ripeness, traveled hundreds of miles and sat in a dark cooler for days before making it to grocery display bins.
Whichever peach you end up with might be a little shy of ripening. You can improve on its readiness with a day or two in a paper bag at room temperature. The fully ripe peach should give slightly with gentle pressure and have a great peachy aroma when you open the bag.
I still remember the beautiful aroma of bushels of peaches brought home from Stratford when I was growing up. My great aunts and cousins would make an annual pilgrimage to Stratford to stock up on peaches for canning, preserves and pies. Their kitchen and often their whole house carried that enticing peach aroma for days.
My mother went to great lengths when it came to our peach trees. Even though she was allergic to stings, mom started beekeeping to assure our trees were fully pollinated. We had plenty of peaches for the freezer, to spoon over ice cream and for pies and cobblers.
Susan Bergen, of Peach Crest Farm in Stratford, says they are a year away from having organic peaches. Their peaches are “slim pickins” this year, so they will wait out the season with plenty of other produce including some great cantaloupes very soon.
When I think about peach desserts, I think of peach cobbler. I like it to be juicy with a flaky crust, not too sweet, and it absolutely has to have a big, peachy aroma. The truth is I like my peach cobbler warm, almost hot, as if it hasn't been out of the oven for long. Vanilla ice cream over the top sort of melting over that warm mound of cobbler in the bowl is the best. I wouldn't mind having it for breakfast at least once during peach season.
I've been experimenting with peach cobbler for a few years now, and I think you'll like the easy flaky crust and peach brandy-infused filling in this cobbler. Sometimes I roll out this crust onto a bed of thinly sliced almonds so that the bottom crust is crispy and almond-infused. I like to use peach preserves or jam along with the sliced peaches to intensify the flavor even more. If I want the filling even juicier, I add a small can of peach nectar to the mixture.
I hope you enjoy the peach season this year. If you get over to the Peach Barn or Livesay Orchards, tell the Livesay Family (Kent, Kyle, Bryan, Dawna and Steven) hello for me.
The Peach Barn has some wonderful peach fried pies and peach ice cream, along with peach smoothies, peach sundaes and peach muffins.
Pick up some of the Porter Peach Barbecue Sauce, peach salsa, peach jam and peach butter. All are guaranteed to make your summer peachier. Maybe I'll see you in Porter or at the Peach Barn.
Oklahoma Peach Perfection Cobbler
Makes 1 cobbler to fill a 2- to 2½-quart casserole dish (about 12 servings)
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese (reduced-fat Highland works well)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (Highland, Braum's or Wagon Creek)
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour (Shawnee's Best All-Purpose)
¼ cup turbinado sugar (for sprinkling over top of crust before
4 pounds peaches (peeled after 1 minute boiling water bath & ice water plunge)
1 tablespoon Fruit Fresh or 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon or orange juice
½ cup sugar
2 to 4 table
½ cup peach jam (Livesay's Porter Peach Jam or Peach Crest Peach Jam)
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup peach brandy
1 (5.5 fluid ounce) can peach nectar