Palisade peaches are one of the great luxuries of living in Colorado. At the end of every summer, we have this delectable, orangeish-pink fruit to look forward to.
But this year hasn’t been an easy one for Colorado’s famed peaches. Not by a long shot.
A hard freeze in April destroyed most of the Western Slope’s peach crop, dealing a devastating blow to local farmers.
“Our farmers were outside all night, running air and burning within the orchards, trying to keep the heat up a little bit to prevent a hard freeze,” said Kate Greenberg, commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “Most were not successful because it was so cold for so long, and we’re at a time in the season when the trees are budding out and highly susceptible to freeze.”
But, miraculously, some of the peaches survived, and now they’re making their way to the Boulder County Farmers Market.
One of the market’s peach vendors, for example, is Thomas Cameron, who runs Rancho Durazno in Palisade. Because of the ranch’s location, about 50 percent of Cameron’s peaches managed to hang on during the freeze. Cameron and his daughter Gwen have been growing peaches and other tree fruits in Palisade since 1979. The farm has been organic since 1990, and has been a vendor at the Boulder County Farmers Market for the last 20 years.
You’ll also find peaches included in this week’s Colorado Proud Box at the market. These boxes, which are changing every week of August, highlight Colorado produce, products and recipes. You can purchase your Colorado Proud Box on the farmers market website Tuesdays through Thursdays, then pick them up curbside on Saturdays in Longmont and Denver.
Here’s what’s included in this week’s box:
- Farm-fresh eggs
- Breakfast sausage
- Oatis Plain & Chocolate Oatmilk
- Outrageous Baking Tea Bread (2 slices of each GF flavor) and gluten-free flour
- Spark + Honey Granola
- Havenly Baked Oat Bread & Rustic Bread (Gluten-free)
- Five Freedom’s Dairy Half Gallon Milk, Sykr and Greek Yogurt
Before you head to the farmers market, be sure to review their COVID-19 guidelines. They’re asking shoppers to make a reservation for a shopping time window and to get in and out quickly — this isn’t the time to linger around!
And if you need a little inspiration for how to use Colorado’s peach bounty, consider this recipe for mercato salad created by John Sismanis, chef at Pizzeria Locale.
- 8 slices pancetta
- 4 peaches
- 8 oz buratta
- 1 baby spring onion, red or white
- 4 oz mustard greens (or similar spicy green)
- 1 lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay pancetta slices on parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Bake until golden and crispy. When finished, allow to cool and drain on a cooling rack or paper towels.
- Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. Generously cover the cut sides with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill peaches on a very hot grill, cut side down, until grill marks are achieved. This should take about one and a half minutes. Set peaches aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Thinly slice the spring onions and mix with mustard greens.
- In a mixing bowl, lightly dress your mustard greens and spring onions with a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, and pinch of salt.
- Slice peach halves into 4 or 5 pieces. Divide ingredients equally onto 4 plates and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.