Delectable peaches – delectable peach pie.
When my mother made ready to live in a retirement home, she told me to take whatever I chose of her kitchen tools and pots. I kept her stock pot, which made soup that tasted just like hers. And the knife sharpening steels that my Dad used to brandish around whenever he set in for a session of serious knife-sharpening. And Mom’s Pyrex pie pan.
There’s nothing special about about the pan, except that it’s decades old and beat-up. They’re still making them; no need to search through a flea market to find one. But my mother’s pie pan invokes memories of many, many pies she baked over many years. Apple pies; lots of those. Spanakopita. Lemon meringue. Green mango pies.
Let me tell you about green mango pies. And yes, they’re cousins to peach pie, you’ll see.
My parents, younger siblings and I lived for a while in Caracas, in a house with two mango trees in the yard. After we moved in, we found that the trees were infested with a fungus. Neighbors said they hadn’t born fruit in years. Mom hosed the trees down twice daily, and within a few months, they started bearing fruit again. We had so many mangoes, we’d put a basket of them down by the front door, and no one who came in was allowed to leave until they took a few away. Desperate for recipes to use up our crop, we discovered that green mangoes make an excellent American apple-style pie.
When I found that Mom was planning to discard the pie pan, I grabbed it. I love its old stains. Love how well the pies baked in it come out, as if the Pyrex has somehow been seasoned. Love to bake in the pan that turned out so many delicious pies over the years of my life. And I have an excellent flaky crust recipe, which you can see here.
It’s only since living in Israel that I’ve begun baking peach pies. Those rosy peaches, so abundant in the shuk during July and August. Knowing how sweet and juicy they are tempts me to bring home more than we can eat. How to use up the six or so peaches quietly sitting on the line between perfectly ripe today, and ready to spoil tomorrow?
That was my latest batch of fresh peaches. Notice the little bumps on top each fruit? They’re little miniature peaches, growing out of the stem ends. Hadn’t seen that before.
Applying the Caracas crazy mango solution, I’ve been baking peach pies almost every Friday for Shabbat. The family hasn’t complained. In fact they scarf the pies down. As August winds down, I’ll buy peaches for pie filling to freeze, so that around Rosh HaShanah time we can enjoy fresh peach pie again.
You don’t have to peel the peaches; that is, I don’t. Just cube them so that the fork picks up appetizing layers of flaky crust and spicy fruit together. Use a pan measuring 9.5 inches – 23. cm. And place a baking parchment under the pan before you slide it into the oven, because a little peachy syrup always escapes and drips. It takes a couple of hours to let the pie cool down to a comfortable eating temperature.