It’s peach season! I grew up in Macon County, adjacent to Peach County, home to The Big Peach, a glorious seventy-five-foot tall peach mounted on a hundred-foot tall pole. When I was in high school, my school breaks were dictated by the season, as many of my classmates were the sons and daughters of farmers. I know and love Georgia peaches! The best way to eat a peach over the sink, with sweet juices running down your wrists. Peaches are serious business in Georgia.
Hot as Georgia Asphalt
I’ve described that Austin Texas in the summertime is like walking around in a rotisserie. Well, consider a South Georgia peach orchard the Instant Pot. The air is hot, steamy, and thick. Your sodden clothes become vacuum-sealed to your body in giant wet flaps. Wiggly waves of heat emanate from the red earth. Infinitesimal gnats menace your eyes, mouth, and ears. The beautiful soft golden down of a peach inexplicably transforms into micro shards of fiberglass insulation. The hellish trio of heat, an indefensible attack of insects, and the relentless itch is an effective blend for guaranteed misery. Ah, but that subtropical sunshine and rich red clay make for one of nature’s most precious gifts – the Georgia peach.
Where Do Peaches Come From?
According to the Clemson University Cooperative Extension, peaches originated in China over 3000 years ago. Spanish missionaries brought peaches to the New World in 1571 to what is now known as St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. History also tells us that Cherokee Indians grew peaches in the mid 1700’s. By the mid to late 1850s peaches were shipped by train out of the region. (Was this the beginning of the hard-as-a-rock grocery store peaches?)
Peaches are an important fruit crop in the agricultural economy of both Georgia and South Carolina. Both states have similar soil types and climate and grow many of the same cultivars. Georgia produces over 85 million pounds of peaches a year. Although Georgia doesn’t grow as many peaches as some other states, including South Carolina and California, it is deservedly known as “The Peach State.” In the late 1800s, a farmer in Marshallville (located about 20 minutes from where the Big Peach now stands) bred the infamous Elberta peach from the seed of a Chinese Cling peach. The peach industry took off from there, the state was tagged with the flavorful nickname, and the rest is sweet juicy history.
Make-Ahead Nut Crumble
Each summer the women of my family would “put up peaches”. We’d can peaches, freeze peaches, and make peach jelly. Peaches are best to me eating out of hand or with a bowl of yogurt. I also like to add them to salads including this recipe for Chicken Salad. Sweet Peaches are tailormade to be an ingredient in BBQ Sauce, too. Check out my recipe for Bourbon Pork Chops with Peach BBQ Sauce.
On the sweet side, there is nothing like Homemade Peach Ice Cream and Peach Cobbler is a summer go-to dessert. In recent years I have tried to lighten things up a bit and have started keeping a jar of Make-Ahead Nut Crumble ready to go in the freezer to use as a topping. It may not seem like butter, sugar, flour, and nuts are actually lighter — but adding only a tablespoon of crumble topping per serving does exactly that and lets the sweet-tart floral flavor of the peaches shine through!
It’s super handy to have a jar of the Make-Ahead Nut Crumble at the ready. I put together a couple of cups at a time and am always ready to whip up a dessert. In this recipe, I sprinkle it atop of a peach tart, but it’s delicious on nearly any summer fruit in a tart form, or just on top of fruit served in a ramekin. And, if you want to serve a larger crumble it can work, too. One word of caution — a ramekin or cup of fruit likely only needs a pinch of sugar and maybe a splash of vanilla. However, if you are going to use this Make-Ahead Nut Crumble on a larger casserole, you will need to toss the fruit with a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch to help soak up the extra juices.
Check out my video of how to prepare the Make-Ahead Nut Crumble and Peach Tart!
When is Peach Season in Georgia?
Peach season lasts in Georgia thru late summer so you need to enjoy these amazing fruits while they are in season. I love to pair almonds with peaches. Almonds and peaches are very closely related. Both are stone fruits or drupes of the genus Prunus, which encompasses peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, and cherries. Other nuts can be used, as well.
Thanks so much for reading. I hope you are able to enjoy some luscious Georgia peaches this summer. To ORDER TREE-RIPE GEORGIA PEACHES make sure to check out the William L. Brown Market. They ship nationwide! Let me know what you think about the crumble. Stay safe and take care.
Bon Appétit, Y’all
PS To celebrate my new partnership with the William L. Brown Market we’re giving away a Baker’s Dozen box of peaches on my Instagram cookbook giveaway starting Friday July 10. Make sure to follow along over the weekend and enter to win! Look for the cover of Just Peachy by Belinda Smith Sullivan
Make-Ahead Almond Crumble Peach Tart
Make-Ahead Nut Crumble Peach Tart
- 1 recipe French Pie Pastry your favorite pie crust, or 2 sheets of pre-made rolled pie crusts, trimmed into disks or lined into tart tins (If using homemade pie pastry, it’s best to blind bake the tartlets. If using store-bought sheets, it’s not as necessary)
- 4 peaches thinly sliced
- 4-6 tablespoons Make-Ahead Nut Crumble
- ice cream or creme anglaise, for serving
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the peaches atop the pie disks. Sprinkle with crumble topping. Bake until the dough is golden brown and the peaches are tender, about 20 minutes if the tarts are blind-baked and 30 minutes if the tarts are not. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or a drizzle of creme anglaise.
Make-Ahead Nut Crumble
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cut into bits
- ½ cup Turbinado sugar
- ½ cup all purpose flour or gluten free flour blend
- ½ cup finely chopped nuts such as almonds peanuts, pecans, or almonds
- Pinch of salt
- Place the butter in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, a couple of forks, or even the bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar, flour, and nuts. Combine the ingredients. Add salt and stir to combine. Transfer to a sealable container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
French Pie Pastry
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 to 6 tablespoons cold water
- To prepare the dough, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter. Process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. Add the egg yolks and pulse to combine.
- With the processor on pulse, add the ice water a tablespoon at a time. Pulse until the mixture holds together as a soft, but not crumbly or sticky, dough. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm and evenly moist, about 30 minutes. If making tarts, divide into 4 equal pieces of dough.
- To prepare the dough, lightly flour a clean work surface and rolling pin. Place the dough disk in the center of the floured surface. Roll out the dough, starting in the center and rolling up to, but not over, the top edge of the dough. Return to the center, and roll down to, but not over, the bottom edge. Give the dough a quarter turn, and continue rolling, repeating the quarter turns until you have a disk about 1/8 inch thick.
- Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to the tart pans with a removable bottom, unrolling over the tin. With one hand lift the pastry and with the other gently tuck it into the pan, being careful not to stretch or pull the dough. Let the pastry settle into the bottom of the pan. Take a small piece of dough and shape it into a ball. Press the ball of dough around the bottom edges of the tart pan, snugly shaping the pastry to the pan without tearing it. Remove any excess pastry by rolling the pin across the top of the pan. Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with the tines of a fork to help prevent shrinkage during baking. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
- To blind bake, preheat the oven to 425°F. Crumple a piece of parchment paper, then lay it out flat over the bottom of the pastry. Weight the paper with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. This will keep the unfilled piecrusts from puffing up in the oven.
- For a partially baked shell that will be filled and baked further, bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the paper and weights. (You can reuse the rice or beans for blind-baking a number of times.) The shell can now be filled and baked further, according to the recipe directions. For a fully baked shell that will hold an uncooked filling, bake the empty shell until a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes total.
Disclaimer: When there’s an appropriate mutually beneficial opportunity I partner for sponsored content. I am compensated by the William L. Brown Market for providing recipes for their blog as well as social media posts promoting the recipes. I do not receive additional compensation for peach or produce orders and this is not a sponsored post, however, I wanted to cover my bases. And, y’all know that no one has to pay me to profess my love of Georgia peaches!
If you are interested in hosting me for a speaking engagement, event, cooking class, or a book signing, let me know! Send an email to email@example.com and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.
Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication is prohibited. All photos and content are copyright protected. If you wish to republish this recipe, please link back to this recipe on virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much!