More than 30,000 peach lovers will descend upon downtown Weatherford today for the 30th annual Parker County Peach Festival, which features food booths, arts and crafts, children’s activities, and live music.
But this year, patrons are in for an especially sweet time. Thanks to a relatively mild spring that was mostly free from late freezes and hailstorms, Parker County peach orchards have produced a bumper crop — the first in many seasons. This means the area’s signature fruit will be in abundant supply, ripe for the picking amid the festival’s numerous peach vendors.
When choosing the best for your bushel, look for peaches that are fragrant, firm and spot-free. And for those that aren’t eaten on the car ride back home, use these peachy recipes shared by some of Parker County’s most prominent culinary pros.
Parker County peach cheesecake
Owner and executive chef, The Wild Mushroom
Chef Jerrett Joslin goes over the top for his chilled peach cheesecake, which is generously stuffed and glazed with fresh Parker County peaches and infused with a hefty splash of peach schnapps to provide an extra jolt of peach flavor. Freshly scraped vanilla bean seeds and a scratch-made graham cracker crust elevate this homemade dessert to restaurant-quality.
Mommy’s peach cobbler
Owner, Jeri’s Back Home Bakery
Former schoolteacher Jeri Lionberger believes her grandmother’s, or “Mommy’s,” peach cobbler is a Depression-era recipe because of its short and simple ingredient list, which originally called for canned peaches. Lionberger opened her popular Weatherford bakery six years ago and says she has enjoyed this incredibly easy-to-make dessert, which doesn’t require any kneading, dough rolling or intricate lattice work, both as a child when grandmother made it and as an adult when she has prepared it for her own children.
Seared scallops with butter-poached local onions and pickled Parker County peaches
Owner and executive chef, Fire Oak Grill
Fire Oak Grill chef Eric Hunter uses just vinegar, local honey and sea salt to quick-pickle his Parker County peaches and add a sweet and sour component to his savory scallop entree. Pickled peaches are popular throughout the South and serve not only as a tangy addition to seafood dishes and salads but as a tart topper for grilled pork chops or sweet relish for burgers. Hunter recommends using freestone peaches, which have pits that don’t cling to the fruit flesh, although any Parker County peach will do.