It’s hard to believe that we’ve been isolating at our cabin on Orcas Island for 5 months now. Definitely, one of the most enjoyable elements to our slower, more rural lifestyle has been watching the day-to-day developments in the orchard, forests and garden as spring turned to summer.
When we arrived on the island in late March, for the first time I got to see the peach tree in the orchard in full bloom. Here’s a shot of a particular peach blossom I posted on Instagram back on April 11th:
And here is the peach that developed from that bloom before I harvested it 5 months later:
Isn’t nature incredible?!?
In between these stages, here is what happened: after the blossom was pollinated the developing fruit bursted through the flower “shuck” to begin forming, the growth of the fruit pushes the dried flower parts to the end of the fruit.
As the days passed, it turned into a hard, green fuzzy orb.
With each day of sunshine, every drop of rain, the fruit grew larger. Once the cells had expanded enough in growth the fruit started to focus on it’s internal development. Primarily, forming and hardening the pit.
In early August, pit perfected, the fruit went through it’s final fruit swell, the cells expanded more and the fruit began turning from green to pale yellow with a blush of pink.
I did an initial harvest from the tree the first week of August to make a peach cobbler for my weekly friday night ZOOM dinner. If the fruits are plump and round, yellow, with a bit of a blush they are ready to be picked. If the fruits are still hard you can speed up the ripening process by putting them in a paper bag. To make it go even faster, add a banana to the bag, bananas produce ethylene gas which makes things ripen. Be sure to check the fruit each day so they don’t over ripen.
If you want to slow down the ripening process you can store the peaches in the refrigerator for a few days, but not longer than a week or they will develop a mealy texture. Bring the peaches to room temperature before serving to enjoy their complex, juicy flavor.
When they are ready to pick the fruit will release from the tree with a gentle “twist”.
The fruit may be very soft, so handle them gently and don’t stack too many in your basket or they may bruise.
My final harvest was on August 11 coincidently, 5 months from that blossom shot posted on Instagram on April 11.
Of course, the possiblities of what to do with this basket of gold were running through my mind with each peach I plucked.
Coming up, peach recipes to inspire….