Friday, July 25, 2008

Patriotic Duty Combined With Kitchen Magic: Peach Leather

I've been a fan of fruit leather since I was a little girl -- it helps to have been a kid in the crunchy 1970s in Oregon. One thing Oregon rarely lacked for was rain. Georgia, it seems, is not so lucky. Take this recipe from The Savannah Cook Book:
Let 'er Rain

If crops are suffering from lack of rain, and you feel constrained to do your bit by your country, plan to make peach leather, and you will bring down rain on the just as well as the unjust. It is as good as a garden party or a county fair to ensure a downpour, since the sun is the essence of the contract for making.

Peach Leather

One peck of peaches peeled and mashed through colander. To each gallon of peach pulp, add three-quarters pound of sugar, and let come to boil. Remove from fire and spread on tin pie plats, and put in the sun to dry. Old receipts say it should stay in the sun three or four days, being brought in at night. When dry enough to peel away from the plate, it is done. Sprinkle the top with sugar, cut in strips, and roll into wafer-like pieces, of any length preferred. It will keep indefinitely in tin.

This recipe charms me completely. I like the idea that committing to make this is tantamount to doing a rain dance. I grin over the phrase "to do your bit by your country" and think both the just and unjust would prefer peach leather to rain, regardless of circumstances.

I assume most modern cooks would use a dehydrating mechanism a bit more controlled than pie tins left in the sun, but if you have a good screen porch or a lack of neighborhood cats, rats, etc., you could do it the 1930s Savannah way.

Peaches are in season in the mid-Atlantic region right now. If you're in the DC/Baltimore area, I recommend getting yourself out to Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD. Both yellow and white peaches are "picking good" this weekend, as are the thornless blackberries. Get enough to make some pies and fruit leather, and use the rest to put up some easy freezer jam, or cordials to give away at the holidays! Make sure you try the peach shortcake at the snack stand -- it's amazing.

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