by Ginger Graham
Peaches from Palisade, Colorado are truly the BEST peaches I’ve ever eaten. They remind me of the big juicy peaches I ate as a kid, when there were still peach orchards across Northern Arkansas where I grew up. Colorado peaches fall off the stone, the skin easily slips off and the juice runs all the way down your arm when you take a bite. Every year I eat way too many. 🙂
We processed 800 pounds of them last year at Ginger and Baker. We’ve got a great peach pie recipe and that pie was a menu favorite. We made a lot of ginger peach jam and still have enough left to sell in our shop and offer with biscuits and butter in the Café this year. There’s nothing like a sweet, ripe Colorado peach!
Palisade peaches have also been a mechanism for our local Fort Collins Breakfast Rotary to raise funds supporting third grade literacy in our local school system. They buy peaches in bulk from the Western Slope of Colorado, sell them by the case here in town, and donate the proceeds to Poudre Valley Schools for programs that help kids improve their reading skills.
But this year, a late April frost did heavy damage to Western Slope peach trees and the crop was greatly diminished. With no peaches available for their fundraiser, Rotary contacted us about making peach pies instead. As a professional pie proponent and pie pusher, I immediately went to work figuring out how we could make 1,000 peach pies to help support their effort.
We had to acknowledge that we couldn’t make the pies with peaches from Colorado. But we did figure out how to source enough peaches from the Pacific Coast to be able to supply handmade, locally crafted peach pies. The Rotary Club was excited and I thought it sounded fun and doable.
And that’s about the time I felt like the dog that finally caught the bus it chased every morning. How on earth were we going to make this happen?
Chef Deb, our Culinary Director, stepped up and offered to meet me any time, day or night, to make peach pies. These days, she and I arrive at 4:30 a.m. and work until the bakery staff arrives at 9 every morning. We’ve figured out how to make about 45 pies in those 4 ½ hours! Then we come back after the bakery staff goes home and do it again.
We process those peaches, mix them with sugar and cinnamon and get to work. There is dough to roll, strips to cut for the lattice tops and lots of crimping!! We figured out there are 15 crimps per pie and we’re 765 pies in so far; that’s 11,475 crimps!!
The whole staff can smell the freshly baked pies when they arrive in the morning. “How many pies have you made so far?” is the most frequently asked question around here right now.
We have a calendar hung on the wall to capture our daily count. Rotary volunteers show up every Monday morning to pick up this weeks’ production and store them in big freezers for the upcoming sale.
We asked for the chance to make 1,000 peach pies in a month… and we got it. It’s become a huge team effort for a great cause. Ginger and Baker is built on history, community, creativity and pie. Supporting the community and celebrating all the things we do help each other is what it’s all about.
If you want to support the local Rotary Club in their efforts to fund literacy programs for our third graders, please go to their website and order a Peach Pack Experience.
Deb and I will have made every single pie and we hope you will enjoy it in your home with family, share it with friends… or simply have a slice with coffee for breakfast. In spite of these challenging times, we still have much to be thankful for and peach pie definitely fits on that list!