About four years ago, I bought a tiny peach tree at our local hardware store. The label referred to it as a Pixie Dwarf something or other, and an employee said that it would probably never reach my height. But I needed a small tree. That first year, it set over 150 peaches. I still don't know how it managed, but I picked them as soon as they appeared. A single ripe peach would have broken any one of its branches. I didn't let the tree keep any fruit the next year, either. Last year, I left six on the tree to ripen, but the birds and insects ate them before we could. I did taste the one peach that was only half eaten, and it was delicious.
Not long after that, I read a blog post that described how to pick peaches before they ripened and then ripen them between linen napkins. Well, I thought, I have linen napkins. This year, we ended up with over 50 peaches that I picked early and ripened between my napkins, and they tasted every bit as good as if they'd been ripened on the tree. So I'm sharing.
I'm also sharing my peach custard pie recipe. The pie crust recipe was my mother's, and it has spoiled my enjoyment of the pasty, tasteless stuff that usually passes for pie crust. But if you wish to use your own pie crust or the frozen variety, just prick the bottom and cook it for about 10 minutes first.
Mom's Flakey Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold water
Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and combine, but don't overdo it; mixing for too long will make your crust tough. This should make two pie shells.
The Finished Product
Peach* Custard Pie (makes two)
I usually peel and slice about eight cups of peaches. Don't ever make this with frozen or canned peaches (yes, I did); this pie is only as good as the peaches you use in it. Arrange your peaches in the two pie shells (that have been baked for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F) so that they fill most of the pan but don't exceed the top. You want them mostly submerged in custard.
Next, I beat four or five eggs (with a fork),
add a cup of sugar (and beat it in),
1/3 cup of flour (still beating),
2 teaspoons of vanilla (beating).
Then I sprinkle the mixture with nutmeg and cinnamon,
stir in 2 cups of milk,
and pour the mixture over the peaches.
Bake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit, and cool thoroughly to let the custard set up. I like it best cold. But whether you eat yours warm or cold, make sure you store it in your refrigerator.
*You may substitute other fruits. I certainly have. Mixing fresh cherries with peaches is especially good.