Picture a peach. Imagine the soft blush of its fuzzy skin, the sweet freshness of its scent, and the drippy juiciness of its melting flesh. Now picture 35,000 pounds of those blushing little beauties and imagine peeling and pitting each one. By hand.
For one week of every summer, this is the scene in American Spoon’s kitchen as employees from across the company convene to prepare freshly-picked peaches for our Red Haven Peach Preserves. It’s messy, monotonous work that almost every other company in America abandoned decades ago for the convenience and economy of machine-blastable clingstones. Yet the mess smells divine and the monotony — according to April, our lead cook — is more spiritual than tedious and we’ve long believed that flavor trumps convenience. American Spoon takes great pride in this week of messy monotony and in the delicious peach preserves it produces.
We start with the world’s most beloved and widely planted freestone peach: Michigan’s native Red Haven. Though most people associate peaches with sweltering Southern places, the Red Haven was developed right here along Michigan’s western shoreline and Michigan ranks fourth among America’s peach producing states, right after California and those sweltering Southern places. Our Red Havens are grown on Joe Daly’s farm near Hart. Joe tends them with great care, cools them as they are hand-picked and delivers them to our kitchen, driving his own truck.
And this is where things start to get messy. The peaches are sorted for ripeness, blanched quickly in boiling water to loosen their skins, and then plunged into cold water to cool. Then they are peeled, pitted and carefully put by to ensure the lushest, chunkiest, peachiest peach preserves this side of, well, anywhere.