I love stone fruit season. We’re too far north for the best of it – I’ve learned that it is futile trying to get decent apricots or cherries this far north. But we get good local peaches and plums from within my “100 mile diet” range, with most of the 100 miles vertical, up onto the Northern Tablelands where there is enough chill factor and less fruit flies.
We do have several very early plum varieties that we can pick early enough to beat the fruit flies. And we have several seedling peach trees that bear beautifully fragrant peaches with a thickish skin, that protects about half of them from fruit fly. Trouble is, you don’t know which half until you bite into them.
I’ve tried baiting and bagging and netting with some success, but it’s a lot of work. I remember reading a report years ago where someone was bagging out organic gardening by calculating that a tomato cost something like $10 in resources and labour, and I thought, well you’re just growing the wrong type at the wrong time. My basic garden philosophy is that if you want a garden that yields quality as well as quantity with a viable amount of time spent overall, you have to go with your climate and environment. For me, that means virtually effortless mangoes, but peaches that are half for me, half for the chooks.
But, the end result of all that is that, this time of year, I have lots of really nice peaches that need to be cut, and I don’t want to make jam because then I’d just eat it and I really don’t need that much sugar. This is our favourite way to use them.
Cut the peaches in half and stone them.
Put them, skin side down, on an oven tray. If you have a real sweet tooth you can sprinkle with sugar, but I don’t.
Bake in a very low oven for an hour or two until they are semi-dried, like semi-dried tomatoes. I put them on the bottom shelf of my (not fan forced) oven while it warms up for bread baking, take them out for half an hour while the oven is hot, then put them back in with the oven turned down very low while it cools down.
Blend the semi-dried peaches in a blender or food processor, adding a (very) little butter, oil, or just or water if needed to get a smooth spread.
It will keep for a few days in the fridge, and I imagine would freeze well, but we eat it fresh, spread thickly on toast.