Summer in South Carolina means peaches. From roadside stands to supermarkets, this delectable fruit graces our shelves and palates from early June straight through to September.
South Carolina is #2 in the nation in peach production (second only to California). No hurt feelings to any Georgia natives out there, but we lead all southern states – including Georgia! – we are fondly called the “Tastier Peach State.” As a matter of fact, the peach is SC’s state fruit.
This pie recipe brings me back to my childhood growing up in Columbia, SC and lazy summer nights on the ‘Bluff’ with my family and our extended family of cousins and neighbors. Throw in a fish fry with bluegills caught that day, hot homemade hushpuppies, cold slices of watermelon and an evening of firefly catching (plus some tall tales told by my dad and uncle) and to me that is what childhood should be like.
I’ve heard that one can immerse a peach in boiling water for a few seconds and the skin will slip right off. Has anyone out there ever tried this? I’d love to know how it worked for you. I sort of enjoy peeling fruit (yes, I admit it) and am actually good at it if I do say so myself – fast and accurate, removing the peel without much fruit attached. I am also fairly good at removing a whole peel in one piece. But that trick works better for apples than peaches…
Anyhow, while I love a good marinade or barbeque sauce infused with peach flavor, peach ice cream and an occasional fuzzy navel (brunch, people!) my favorite way to eat a peach is either fresh out of hand or in a pie. Homemade peach pie is one of those desserts that requires little accoutrement either in the pie itself or served along with it, in my humble opinion.
The secret to really great peach pie is: Don’t muck it up with a bunch of spices, additions or worse, odd sauces served along side. If you have a flaky, buttery pie crust and perhaps a dollop of quality vanilla ice cream you’ve got a winner. Let the peaches speak for themselves!
South Carolina Peach Pie
7-8 medium to large peaches, preferably SC
Juice of ½ of a fresh lemon (no seeds!)
2/3 cup* Demera sugar or regular cane sugar
½ tsp salt
3-4 tbl cornstarch
Pie pastry for a double crust
Egg wash, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the peaches and slice. You should have between 4 ½ and 5 cups of sliced peaches. Taste one slice to determine sweetness and juiciness. If peaches are very sweet you can decrease the sugar by 2 to 3 tablespoons. If the peaches are really ripe and juicy use 4 tablespoons of cornstarch, if they are not 3 tablespoons should suffice.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the peaches and gently stir to distribute. In a small bowl mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Pour this over the peaches and stir gently.
Place the bottom pastry in a 9-inch pie pan. Reserve the other pastry for the top crust which you can cut for a lattice top, or use whole (cut slits in top if using a whole crust). Pour the peaches into the pie pan and top with the crust.
In you wish, make an egg wash out of one whisked egg yolk and a tablespoon of water do this and brush over the crust (I did not use an egg wash on this pie). Bake in the preheated 400 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30-40 minutes or until the fruit is soft and the pie is all bubbly. The egg wash can make the crust brown quickly so if that happens cover the edges of the pie with some foil.
Cool for at least 2 hours before slicing. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Note that placing the pie in the refrigerator will allow the pie filling to thicken – if you slice while warm it will most probably be runny…
Serves 8… or maybe 4 peach pie fanatics… or maybe just one depending on the severity of your peach love!