Peach Jam, Peach Cobbler & Sweet Memories
Back when I was a kid, we lived on a cul-de-sac in Tucson. Most all the families on our cul-de-sac had kids around our ages, and we were all very close. Summer found us all in someone’s backyard having chinaberry wars, seeing who could outrun the neighbor’s goose or running through the sprinklers. Our moms hosted many block parties during those days, and I have so many fond memories of growing up there.
One of my favorite memories was picking peaches. Each summer, my mom would load a bunch of us in the back of the station wagon and drive to Wilcox, Az. A wonderful peach orchard was down there called Apple Annie’s. She would let us all pick peaches to our heart’s desire.
We had no idea then, she was actually using us as her free labor, but we didn’t care. We loved it. Every once in a while, you could sneak a peach and enjoy the delicious juicy flavor. It was heaven!
We always packed a lunch and had a picnic before we left. One trip in particular, I remember Mom bringing our dog, Prince, on the trip.
I only remember that happening one time because Prince ended up getting car sick and throwing up all over the boys in the back! Another time I remember us stopping to get gas and each of us getting a piece of bazooka bubble gum. We spent the rest of the trip trying to blow the biggest bubble until one kids got very big and popped all over his face and hair. That was the end of the bubble gum.
When we got back to Tucson, my mom would make homemade peach cobbler and homemade peach ice cream. The whole cul-de-sac would come over in our backyard to enjoy it. I look back on my mom in wonder. She didn’t think twice about loading all those kids up, most not her own, and give us a day we would always remember.
Last year, one of my childhood friends and I went down to Wilcox. Apple Annie’s is still going strong! But they have so much more to offer now. You can pick Asian pears, apples and peaches. They have a store where they bake the most delicious pies and have a myriad of products to choose from. Down the road about 6 miles, they have a produce farm. There you can pick and/or buy tomatoes, cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumbers, peppers, squash and many other great produce.
The peaches at Apple Annie’s are later growing than farms in Phoenix. They start picking around the last week of July and go till September.
This year I was able to make a trip down again and loaded up with some gorgeous and huge peaches. We will be enjoying them all winter canned in simple syrup or in jam.
If you decide to take the trip to Wilcox, make time to stop at the Amerind Museum in Dragoon. This is a wonderful Native American museum tucked away in the hills of southern Arizona. You won’t want to miss it!
Within this article you will find two of my favorite recipes for the peaches. The Jam recipe was given to me 30+ years ago by one of my mom’s closest friends. She heard that I was learning to can and sent this recipe that had been handed down in her family. It is, I believe, the best peach jam recipe I’ve ever tasted and it’s the only one I use. The Cobbler recipe is my mom’s and the one she would make for our little cul-de-sac in Tucson. Enjoy!
3 lbs+ peaches
1 box powdered pectin (I use Sure-Jell original)
2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice (you cannot use fresh lemon juice in canning)
5.5 cups sugar
Peel fully ripe fruit and pit. Run through the food processor to puree. Measure 4 cups of fruit and put into a saucepan. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice and the package of powdered pectin. I also add a pat of butter. This will keep it from foaming later. Place over high heat and stir until mixture comes to a hard boil. At once, add the sugar and stir in well. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir for 5 minutes to cool slightly and to prevent fruit from floating. Fill jars and water bath, can according to your altitude.
Using a deep-dish pan (size according to your needs), butter the dish generously. Slice peeled peaches into the dish all the way to the top and sprinkle with fruit fresh (this keeps the peaches from browning and you only need to do this if you are going to freeze the cobbler).
Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon and dot with butter.
Using a premade crust or a homemade crust, roll out and cut into 1” wide strips. Lay across the peaches in a lattice. Crimp and overlap crust around the edges. Sprinkle with more sugar and cinnamon.
Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes -1 hour or until bubbly and brown.