Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From Colorado to Minnesota: Peaches, peaches & more peaches August 17, 2015

Colorado peaches

Colorado peaches

PEACHES AND CREAM. It is how I ate fresh peaches as a Minnesota farm kid. Chunked peaches drenched with cream in a bowl. To this day they remain one of my favorite fruits, as much for the taste as for the memories.

Today's peaches are packed in cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates.

Today’s peaches are packed in cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates.

Every summer Mom would pick up a slated wooden crate of peaches from the local grocer. She pried the lid open and then we carefully unwrapped the peaches from pinkish tissue, setting the tissue squares aside for use later in the outhouse. Next we slid the peaches into boiled water to loosen the skins. Soon Mom was slipping sliced peaches into Mason and Ball jars and packing the jars into a pressure cooker. When the jars had cooled, the lids sealed, she gathered the preserved fruit to store in the cellar.

Then, on the coldest of winter evenings, Mom lifted a door hidden in the red-and-white checked linoleum kitchen floor and sent me to the cellar. Down the wooden stairs I clomped to the dirt-floored cellar lit by a single bare bulb. There, in the earthy shadows, I searched for a quart of golden peaches. Thin-sliced peaches if the fruit was to serve as a dessert. Half-slices of peaches if Mom planned to serve the fruit as a salad, halves turned up to cup cottage cheese nested upon a leaf of iceberg lettuce.

Today I neither eat peaches with cream or cottage cheese, or even preserved. I prefer mine fresh. And right now I have 39 fresh Colorado peaches—20 pounds—in my refrigerator. That is a lot of peaches for two people to eat. But my husband insists we can do it. He’s right. Several years ago we managed to consume an entire crate of peaches without any spoiling.

Buyers could choose whichever box of peaches they wanted.

Buyers could choose whichever box of peaches they wanted.

I love peaches. And I like supporting a good cause, which is partially why we ordered a box of Colorado peaches. The Community Cathedral Cafe, a coalition of Faribault churches providing a free meal in Faribault every Tuesday evening, sold the peaches as a fundraiser. So did the youth at First English Lutheran Church.

Boxes of peaches await pick-up in the basement of First English Lutheran Church.

Boxes of peaches await pick-up in the basement of First English Lutheran Church.

When we picked up our 20-pound box of peaches, I was impressed by the sheer volume of boxes stacked in the refrigerator cold basement of First English. The two groups teamed up to order five pallets of peaches from Noland Orchards, a family fruit farm near “The Peach Capital” of Palisade, Colorado. That’s 400 boxes or 8,000 pounds of peaches, selling for a grand total of $12,800.

Peach paperwork and suggestions on how to eat peaches.

Peach paperwork and suggestions on how to use the peaches.

So now I’m looking for recipes to use these peaches. If you have a favorite, pass it on. That’d be mighty peachy of you.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Entry to the peach pick-up site at First English Lutheran Church in Faribault.

Entry to the peach pick-up site at First English Lutheran Church in Faribault. The pallets have already been claimed for repurposing into artwork and more.

Simple directions once inside.

Simple directions once inside.

Carts are on hand to transport boxes from basement to vehicle.

Carts are on hand to transport boxes from basement to vehicle.

Volunteers are available to wheel peaches outside and load into vehicles.

Volunteers are available to wheel peaches outside and load into vehicles.

And when that task is done, back inside the volunteers go to await the next customer who has preordered a box of peaches.

And when that task is done, back inside the volunteers go to await the next customer who has preordered a box of peaches.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling