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An extra day of sunshine


In late April we had a frost. After an unbelievably-mild winter that required only two or three shovellings, and a spring that had us in sandals by March, the raw cold of April 29th came as a harsh surprise. 

That said, what was merely startling to us was devastating to the farms and farmers we call neighbours. The fruit trees — apple, peach, pear, plum, cherry and others — were already festooned with early blooms; the fragile flowers couldn't handle the biting, sudden freeze, and were largely wiped out

So, there's been months of waiting. Talking to friends with farms to see how they're doing, peering down the rows of orchards as we drive by, craning our necks in the hope of seeing some fruit on the branches.  

The good news is, pockets of fruit survived — the yields are low, and the season will be short I hear, but there are peaches. There were cherries too, though less than what we've come to expect.


We are thoroughly spoiled by where we live. Smack-dab in the middle of farmland, there's markets almost every day, and roadside stands full up with produce, well into autumn. We're used to the strawberry festival, the cherry festival, and the peach celebration that closes down the main street of a nearby town every August, and by September we're in the orchards, picking apples for cake. We greedily bide our time until the late-summer glut of fruit arrives, and then snatch up the harvest, flat by flat, to be preserved. 

This year, there won't be that boon. I don't know if there will be peaches for canning, there's hope, but not for certain. And so, what we have is all the more precious. I want to take grateful note, as their time is fleeting. 

We often take those days of feast for granted. We've fogotten our luck at what we have nearby.

We bought our first basket of peaches. They smelled like summer holidays, like nostalgia and growing up. They reminded of humid evenings in the backyard, of shortcakes and crumbles, and fruit eaten out of hand sitting at Mum and Dad's old picnic table, with sticky juice running down to our elbows. They made me think of how we seek out the sweetness in so many things, peaches, plums and nectarines among them, and how we find an edge of sharpness in each bite. 


I didn't want to muss up these peaches; I wanted them for their simple peachy-ness. Pure, straight fruit, helped along maybe, but not essentially changed. That need manifested into peaches soaked in wine, perfumed by honey and vanilla. I chose not to poach the fruit exactly, rather giving them a gentle bath, in the thought that suggestion of warmth would coax a that bit more vanilla out of that pod, and bring that much more tenderness to the peaches, as if there had been an extra day of sunshine.

The fruit goes into the wine whole and unpeeled. There's rather ceremonial beauty in a peach, served whole. The peels are slipped away, like silk across shoulders, just before eating. The skins leave rosy marks on the flesh of the peaches, and also offer some protection from the simmering wine so that their centres are just barely cooked; they retain the direct sour-sweet of the farmstand, tinged with the taste of the wine. And that wine, well, as the peaches sit their flavour fully blossoms, mingling into the liquid — so that wine makes for a boozy consommé, sparkling, bracing and bright. 

I let some runny crème fraîche meander through the juices, it's sourness perfect against that of the fruit. The peaches feel fresh, firm and bouncy cheeked, through-and-through fragrant. I like them very much, straight from the fridge. Their taste is clear, that of a July afternoon without cloud.

There are those moments when I look around and wish I could stop time. I wonder for a way to hold everything, as it is, still and somehow the same, to keep safe for the times ahead, for times of frost and freezing.

This is the closest I've come. 


Peaches soaked in vanilla wine
The peaches require a few hours to chill, so plan with that in mind.

2 cups (500 ml) dryish white wine
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla pod, split
4 medium peaches, washed, stems removed but left whole

Crème fraîche, to serve

In a saucepan that will fit your peaches snugly, stir together the wine and honey. Run the blunt end of a knife across the vanilla bean to scrape out the seeds, add the seeds to the saucepan, along with the pod itself.

Bring the wine mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Allow the wine to bubble gently for a few minutes, until the honey is melted and the mixture starts to thicken just a bit. Carefully lower the peaches into the barely-simmering liquid — they should be submerged — and cook gently for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, flip the peaches over, and cover with a lid. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then chill the peaches for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

When you're ready to eat, carefully remove a peach from the liquid. Gently pinch the skin with your fingers and it should pull away from the flesh. Peel the peach and place it back in the liquid. Repeat with the remaining fruit.

Thin some crème fraîche with a bit of the wine mixture; it's nice at a pouring consistency. To serve, place a peach in a bowl, spoon over some of the wine, followed by the crème fraîche.

Serves 4, or maybe 2, depending on the day. 


  • The peaches must be fully covered by the liquid while chilling, or they will discolour. If needed, top up with some extra wine to keep them dunked, or seal out air by pressing a piece of clingfilm against the surface of the peaches.
  • For those who prefer a thicker syrup, the wine can be further reduced after the peaches have had a chance to soak. I'd remove the fruit, boil down the liquid, then get it good and cold again before serving.
  • Any extra wine in left in the pot can be sipped, or reduced to a syrup as above and saved for eating with ice cream.


Reader Comments (31)

This is gorgeous. I appreciate the reminder of being thankful, not taking things for granted. 'They made me think of how we seek out the sweetness in so many things, peaches, plums and nectarines among them, and how we find an edge of sharpness in each bite.' - I've been contemplating the bittersweetof life, and this sentence is just beautiful.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

how i love reading your post. our pear trees are not going to bare fruit this year, we are sad of course. have been picking raspberries and blueberries and the apple trees look good.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternadia

Lovely miss. I'm with you. xo

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikole

i fell for the freestones from georgia this year, i made so much peach jam, it's just silly. (they are so beautiful when the skins slip away) nice post, beautifully written and photographed!

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdarla magee

Such beautiful words and images. Thank you for this post, it's great to stop and appreciate what we have from time to time!

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolubka

How did I not realize that you live right in the middle of farmland? I love that you can peek into the orchards as you drive by. The way I've been carrying on here lately, you'd think I just discovered that it's possible to cook stone fruit. Apricots, cherries, peaches, you name it. Into the oven! (I just scraped the bowl of my latest cooked peach thing-o before I clicked over here.) And here, something stove-top! This is up next, for me. I'm sorry to hear about this year's harvest. I do hope you'll end up with more, not less. Beautiful writing here, Tara. I enjoyed every word. xo.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Thank goodness for those peach survivors! Looks delicious!

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRiley

Such a beautiful way to serve peaches. I grew up in an orchard town and I know exactly what you mean about peaches smelling like summer. Great post

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

What a sensual summer dish! And lovely, thoughtful prose...

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPrairie

Inventive and lovely - love this idea of serving a big beautiful whole peach. Can't wait to try.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteritaliangirlcooks

Peaches are one of my absolute favorite things about summer. Actually, they may be one of my favorite things ever.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJade Sheldon

This sounds so good! I'm only starting to like peaches - it's the fuzz that always put my front teeth on edge (I've always liked nectarines). Love how you describe the skin falling off the shoulders. Beautiful as always, Tara!

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

These look insanely good, love peaches!

this is beautiful. thanks for sharing.

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjustcooknyc

I know what you mean about wishing you could stop time. Thanks for such beautiful writing.

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClarice

The peaches look great.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

I love peaches. You just made them sound incredibly sexy. I have always felt they were, what with the juice just bursting from them and running down your arms, sticky in the summer heat. Wow so beautiful, I loved your post.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Gosh I love this, just every little bit about it. So, so lovely.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternicole

Thank you for shedding light on this issue and for sharing such a gorgeous recipe. I’ve signed the petition and I plan to cook this recipe for lunch next week. I love your blog, by the way. andhra kitchen

July 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterprasad

I'm so sad to hear about the plight of the peach crops this year! I hope you get your fill.

July 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Peaches soaked in vanilla wine... well that sounds awesome! peaches have always been my favorite fruit and I definitely could not think of a better way to use the last ones of summer.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose Taylor

This is so I love! Haha. Never tried peaches with vanilla before...This is so awesome!

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucy Hill

I love simple dishes like this one that really celebrate the ingredient.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Savory Simple

If you have a minute, please check out my blog and follow me if you liked it. I'll appreciate it so much! Thanks!

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesca

Hi Tara,

I am not a newcomer to your site. But, this is the first time I've commented.

Lovely, lovely post. Thank you for your writing.


Kelly Turnbull @

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Turnbull

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