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

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42 Responses to “From Colorado to Minnesota: Peaches, peaches & more peaches”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    Love this.
    Everything about this post – your childhood past, & more recent past, the present.
    That it’s a fundraiser
    That people are purchasing multiple cases of peaches at a go
    Wonderful.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Chris has asked for fresh peaches to put on ice cream and I have failed this weekend to get that for him! This just reminded. I have made two dishes of crisp for company here the past two weeks and used this recipe. http://www.cookingupcottage.com/?s=peach+crisp I have also made this peach salsa recipe with great results. It is yummy with chips or on top of chicken breasts. Yum.http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2015/05/peach-salsa/

  3. Oh My Goodness – Peaches Galore – love it! You know what I love is a good fruit hand pie and they are freezable too. I love stone fruit grilled too. The recipes are endless as well as just eating the peaches fresh. My mouth is watering now. Happy Week – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Sue Ready Says:

    Oh my, I am so envious -a whole crate of peaches-and supporting a great cause-try Peach Almond Crisp by Ever Ready
    Also you might try rereading reading James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (a delightful read) while munching on a peach one sunny afternoon.

    • Thanks for specifically directing me to the Peach Almond Crisp recipes. I’ve already checked out the ones on Southern Living and am making the peach pie later today. I have never read Roald Dahl’s peach book. But a good idea…

  5. Hmmm, peaches in season are absolutely the best.. But, I thought Georgia was the peach capital of the U.S.

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    We ordered ours through the 4H group and we have 1 peach left! One peach pie and many peach/orange/banana, peach/mango, peach/whatever smoothies later, only 1 lovely peach left…..sigh…… Generally, they were good (not great and NOT “free stone”) but good. I guess I must prefer Georgia varieties (or my memories have become a tad distorted over the years with how yummy the childhood flavors were so PERFECT!!!!!). Yummy post!!!!!!

  7. Lisa Armour Says:

    Audrey,

    Have you ever been to Jesse James Days in Northfield, MN? It is held every year on the second weekend in September. This year it is being held from 9-13 Sept. I think it would make an excellent item to blog about! My Mom’s family is from the Northfield area. My Dad’s family is from the New Richland area. My Dad taught HS at Morgan Public School, where I grew up. One of my sons (I have 4 of them with 3 in the military) is flying home with me to be there for Jesse James weekend. We are flying from Durham, NC! Yes, I miss it that much! lol Let me know if you need more information and I would be happy to provide it.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa Armour

  8. Jackie Says:

    Your play-by-play of canning peaches brought back some great memories, my mom did the same thing. Enjoy your peaches and have fun trying some new recipes 🙂

    http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=299431#_a5y_p=2296653

  9. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    That’s a lot of peaches, lady! I like peaches, too; ate half a peach for breakfast this very morning. I’ve gotten some good ones this summer. I just eat mine fresh, too, so no recipe ideas to share. I enjoyed your story. I could picture you heading down the stairs to the cellar.

  10. Wow, that’s a lot of peaches!

  11. Yum, we just bought and froze a bunch of those peaches too. Hopefully you get some great recipes.

  12. Littlesundog Says:

    I loved this post, Audrey! Like you, I grew up with fond memories of canning and enjoying desserts, jams and jellies during the winter months. But now we eat fresh since we are into a healthier lifestyle (Paleo). I can well imagine just Forrest and I managing a 20 lb box of peaches too… it’s totally doable and quite healthy! No groups around here sell fruit in boxes, but occasionally we pick up a flat in Texas on our way back from visiting family. I revel in the deliciousness of those fruits! I have a peach tree (and other various fruit trees) here on the place, but they haven’t yielded anything big, juicy and lovely as what other states can produce!

  13. Love the detail about using the peach tissue for…other purposes! I hope you got some good recipes!

  14. They are quite delicious too!

  15. Mary Steffen Says:

    How can I get a box of these peaches?


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