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It took me almost 40 years to master the technique, but I finally got it right.

According to my grandmother, a good sugar cream pie has two layers. The top should be a light custard. The second layer needs to be rich and even a little syrupy.The result is a totally decadent blend of flavor and texture.

When my grandparents owned the Wawasee Restaurant during the ’40s (which is before I was born), my grandmother’s “old-fashioned cream” pie was the signature dessert. She also served it at family gatherings; as did my mother. When I was a new bride, this was the first recipe I copied into the blank pages of my brand-new cookbook.

It was and always will be my favorite pie.

Although sugar cream pie is associated with the Amish, the recipe has been traced back to 1816, the year Indiana became a state and long before the Amish came to this area.  Virtually unheard of outside of  Indiana, Sugar Cream pie officially became Indiana’s State Pie on January 23, 2009.

I definitely believe Sugar Cream pie is more than worthy of the honor.  

But, I think there is an over-abundance of gloppy (where you can really taste the flour) custard pies being passed off as Hoosier Sugar Creams. Basically,they are custard pies–only with a LOT of flour substituted for the eggs. They don’t do the dessert justice.

If the recipe sounds a bit artery-clogging, my mother makes her pie with 2% milk instead of cream. It is still wonderful.

Enjoy!

REAL HOOSIER CREAM SUGAR PIE

¼ Cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 generous tablespoon butter

1 egg yolk

2 heaping tablespoons flour

1 pinch salt”

Milk or Cream (1-1 ½ cups…enough to fill pie shell) Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Mix brown and white sugar with flour. Sprinkle flour/sugar mixture over pie crust. Beat egg yolk with milk. Fill pie shell. Take a spoon and swirl it through the milk mixture a couple of times. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Bake at 410 degrees for 10 minutes.Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes. The filling should be bubbling. The center should still jiggle. Be careful not to overcook or the filling will not set.

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Sour dough pancakes with sausage and hot real maple syrup.

It is cold today…40 degrees, with wind and rain.

But, I’m ready. My  sour dough starter has been upstairs by the radiator for 48 hours. It’s yeasty and bubbling and fermenting and smells pleasantly alchoholic. It is a family tradition too. I got the starter that is starting my starter from my mother who has been making the recipe since 1988.

This morning I used some of it and surprised my husband with sour dough pancakes. He loved them. They were light and tasted as good as I had hoped. Which inspired me to dig through my recipe drawer to find recipes for sour dough biscuits, cakes and bread.

The weather is miserable. But, I’m happily inside, wallowing in domesticity. I’m encasing my favorite recipes and some I want to try in plastic and organizing them in a 3-ring binder. I’ve made up menus. I’ve done a grocery list.

Meanwhile, my sour dough ferments and gets better. It will last for as long as I keep feeding it.

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When your starter is ready it should be bubbly and have a pleasant yet slightly sour aroma.

MOM’ SIMPLE SOUR DOUGH STARTER
(Can be left unattended for 3 weeks, no problem.)

1 pkg. dry yeast

2 cups warm water

2 cups flour.

Mix flour and yeast in 1 1/2 qt. container (glass or earthenware). Use wooden spoon. Add water. Cover with cheesecloth or towel. Leave in warm room for 48 hours. Stir 2 to 3 times. It will ferment, bubble and accquire a slightly sour smell. Makes 3 cups. Refrigerate. To use, stir then pour off as much as the recipe requires. Then add equal parts of flour and water to the remaining starter in the pot. Stir & let stand a few hrs. until it bubbles again before covering and refrigerating.

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Part of the batter is mixed and set out the night before you want to have sour dough pancakes.

MOM’S OLD-TIME SOUR DOUGH PANCAKES

1 cup starter

2 cups flour

enough warm water to make batter

Make batter using the starter, flour and warm water. Set in warm place until morning. In the morning, stir up the batter a little. Not too much.

While the griddle is heating add:

1/4 cup dry skim milk

1 to 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1/3 cup melted shortening

2 eggs beaten

Dissolve 1 tsp. baking soda in a little warm water and add just before spooning batter onto griddle.

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Turn your pancake over when the top is covered with bubbles. This pancake is just starting to bubble.

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The bottom of the pancake browns quickly. Keep a close eye.

MOM’S QUICK SOURDOUGH BREAD

1 tsp dry yeast

3 tbsp. warm water

2 cups starter

3 tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. non-fat milk powder

2 tbsp. shortening or vegetable oil

3-4 cups flour

Generously grease a 9×5 loaf pan, set aside. In small bowl sprinkle yeast over warm water. Set aside to soften – 5 minutes.

In large bowl combine yeast mixture, starter, sugar, salt, milk powder & shortening or oil. Beat until blended. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a medium stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough for 8 – 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add more flour if needed. Shape into loaf and place in prepared pan. Cover with cloth and set in a warm place free from drafts. Let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake 50 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped with your fingers. If after 30 minutes loaf is golden brown, cover with a tent of foil to prevent further browning. Turn out of pan. Cool on a rack.

MOM’S SOURDOUGH BISCUITS

1 1/2 cups flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. shortening

1 cup starter

Mix dry ingredients – cut in shortening. Stir in starter & knead 20 times on floured board. Roll 1/2″ thick and cut with biscuit cutter. Place on floured cookie sheet and let rise until double. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

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I made these this morning. Most of them are gone already.

MY BLUEBERRY SOURDOUGH MUFFINS

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 oil

1 cup sourdough starter

1 cup white or whole-wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 425.

 Combine dry ingredients in small bowl. Stir in blueberries. Combine wet ingredients in a larger bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ones. (I sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon on top of my muffins)

Mix quickly and spoon into greased and floured muffin tin.

Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes.  

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Tonight we had baked spaghetti with garlic bread.

DH wanted baked spaghetti.

I’d never heard of it. It sounded kind of dry. I thought the pasta underneath might end up mushy and overcooked.

“No,” said DH, “it’s wonderful. The pasta absorbs the sauce and makes it really flavorful. I really like it.”

So, when I found Imagineannie’s meatloaf and baked spaghetti “planned over” dinners I thought I would give both recipes a try. I am glad I did. DH was right. It WAS wonderful. Plus I not only used up the meatloaf from the night before, DH and I were thrilled to be eating leftovers. 

I will definitely be making both the meatloaf and baked spaghetti again.

Here is the link to Imagineannie’s “planned over” recipes:
http://imagineannie.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/planned-overs-the-transformers-of-the-kitchen/

 You can use any spaghetti sauce for baked spaghetti. I used homemade sauce from my freezer. Here’s my recipe and method for sauce from garden tomatoes:

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/08/12/homemade-spaghetti-sauce-with-garden-tomatoes-herbs-homemade-meatballs-how-to-peel-tomatoes-dhs-gardening-secret/ 

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Our vegetables have spread from the counter to the table. It has been so rainy, we are trying to cure our onions inside.

Tomato cake?

Whoever heard of tomato cake?

We have given away cucumbers and onions and potatoes and tomatoes to just about everyone we know. I’ve made sauce. I’m not fond of canned tomatoes. Then, I found a recipe from who-knows-where, stuffed into a cookbook for tomato cake. I had only to read that it included an ENTIRE cup of dark brown sugar to know it was a recipe with potential.

 With cream cheese frosting, it was wonderful.

dsc00481.jpg The first step toward peeling tomatoes is to put them into boiling water until the skin cracks.

dsc00482.jpg Next plunge the tomatoes into ice water and pull the skin off.

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I’m stirring in the tomatoes, raisins, dates and walnuts. It is not looking very good.

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The cake is done and cooling before being frosted. I used a silicon baking pan for the first time and didn’t use enough support taking the cake out so it cracked. But, I can tell from the smell and what I can see I am going to like it.

FRESH FROM THE GARDEN TOMATO CAKE

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar, dark
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ripe, peeled and chopped up tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins

Directions

Mix cream sugar and shortening.

Add eggs.

Add sifted dry ingredients, mixing well.

Stir in tomatoes, nuts, dates, and raisins.

Put into greased and floured 9x inch baking pan.

Bake in preheated 350’F oven for 35 minutes or until cake tests
done.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions: In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

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Tomato cake ready to be served.

As promised, here are my SUPER, SECRET ingredients to always perfect, moist and tasty roast chicken with crisp and golden skin:

dsc00499.jpg I’ve been stuffing my roast chicken with an apple and onion for over 20 years and always had perfect results.

For a flavorful and moist roast chicken, stuff it with an a cut up apple and halved or quartered onion. Don’t bother to core or peel the apple. Butter your chicken. Sprinkle with rosemary, paprika, salt, pepper and maybe a little lemon (or not). Bake at 325 to 350 degrees and baste often.

Your chicken is done when the legs move freely and the juices are clear.

 UPDATE: Healingmagichands, http://healingmagichands.wordpress.com/ , wrote to say that she puts sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken cavity along with lemons and onions. She says putting fruit & onions inside her chicken  gives her a crispy crust with very moist and flavorful meat.

I like the taste of rosemary with chicken so much that I use it to butter the outside of my roast chicken. (And always with roast potatoes.) But, I bet my chicken WOULD be even better with a sprig of rosemary in the cavity.

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The pear crisp is warm from the oven and ready to serve.

This dessert features a wonderful, butter pecan crisp topping over fresh pears in an Old South flavored brown sugar, cream cheese sauce. It is best warm from the oven and topped with good vanilla ice cream or a whipped topping.

 INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. cream cheese (softened to room temperature)

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of salt

2 large pears, peeled, cored and cut in chunks

2 tbsp. chopped pecans

8 crushed vanilla wafers

2 tbsp. butter

vanilla ice cream or whipped topping

 DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350. Butter small casserole dish. Mix sugar, softened cream cheese, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Stir in pears and pour mixture into buttered casserole.

Mix pecans, wafers and butter in another bowl. Sprinkle over cream cheese with pear mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until pears are bubbling and crispy topping is golden brown.

Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Makes 4 small or 2 very large servings.

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Getting the ingredients together.

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A zip lock bag makes crushing crumbs and cleaning up a breeze.

ANOTHER VERSION: Ellaella of  made this dessert with some Yankee touches. One of the changes she made was to substitute gingersnaps for the vanilla wafers. She also made individual servings instead of using one casserole dish. AND …according to Ellaella the crisp was outstanding. You can find Ellaella’s version here: http://foodpluspolitics.com/

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Tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden have become part of our kitchen decor.

Horse manure!

DH brags about the power of his horse manure compost as if he invented it and got a nobel prize for the invention. “George Washington swore the secret to good farming was horse manure,” says DH.

“You just wait,” he said last summer, “George Washington knew his stuff, you’ll see.”

We added dried manure to our compost pile of grass clippings and shredded leaves last fall. This spring DH tilled it into our garden. Then we used more grass clippings and shredded leaves for mulch on top.

I was hoping the mulch would prevent unwanted plants from popping up, resulting in a no till, weedless garden. That didn’t happen. We had weeds. But, DH was so right about horse manure producing garden miracles. Our one cucumber plant has produced 60 cucumbers…so far.

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Our onions shortly before they were pulled up and cured.

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The first watermelons we found. There are at least 15 on that plant now.

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An 11 pound zuchini that came from a volunteer plant on our compost pile. We didn’t find it until it had grown to this size.

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A basket full of Yukon Gold potatoes. I had no idea potatoes could be so good.

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Browning the meatballs and simmering the tomato basil sauce.

Dinner tonight featured home grown tomatoes and basil.

MY MEATBALLS

Soak in milk, water or stock;

1 slice of bread, 1 inch thick

 Beat:

2 eggs

Add eggs to:

1 1/2 lb. ground meat/I used ribeye

Saute until golden brown:

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Add to the meat. Wring the liquid from the bread. Add the bread to the meat and then add:

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 chopped clove garlic

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. oregano/I’ve used Italian Herbs

Mix and form into balls. Brown lightly in:

2 tablespoons butter

 Cover your frying pan and simmer on low until the meatballs for 1/2 or until the meatballs are firm and no longer pink in the middle.

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Cooking down the sauce.

SPAGHETTI SAUCE WITH FRESH TOMATOES AND BASIL
6 peeled, seeded and cut up tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
 garlic, minced to taste or pinch of garlic powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil (more or less to taste)

DIRECTIONS
In a large skillet or saucepan combine the tomatoes,  tomato
sauce, garlic, sugar and basil. (Other herbs may be added. I really like basil and prefer just that with tomatoes.) Stir all together and simmer over low heat until thickened. More sugar and a tablespoon of butter may be added if the sauce is too acidic. Flour (1 to 2 tablespoons) may be added if you prefer a thicker sauce. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

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Homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil over meatballs & spaghetti. It was sooooooo good!

HOW TO PEEL TOMATOES

Put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 – 45 seconds is usually enough)

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then….

Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.

 

 

This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes!  If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce…not very pleasant.

 

 

 

 

After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half. 

Now you need to remove the seeds and excess water. Wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. You don’t need to get fanatical about it; removing just most will do.

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Toss the squeezed tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off. You’ll end up with a thicker spaghetti sauce in less cooking time!

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DH’s grandmother’s cookbook.

Does anyone know what the second ingredient is in the chocolate pudding recipe?

I guessed sugar.

DH thinks the word is Snickers.

DH’s guess is supported by the correct spelling of the word sugar in the vanilla sauce recipe on the opposite page. But, I am still skeptical.

DH talks a lot about what a good cook his Grandmother Helen was. So I wanted to do something special for him and to make him something from her cookbook. 

Only I wasn’t sure about the recipe’s second ingredient.

DH was. 

Once I asked for his help and showed him the cookbook he had a craving for Snicker pudding. He offered to run down to the closest convenience store.

There is no way I would ever turn down an opportunity to get Snickers bars into our house. I agreed to make the pudding if DH would get the candy.

Six cups of milk sounded like too much pudding for two people so I halved the recipe. We still had two day’s worth of dessert. It was good. DH loved it.

(I did decrease the cornstarch to  1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup and the pudding was still thick. I also added some sugar along with the snickers.)

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Preparations for Snicker bar pudding.

 DH’s Grandmother’s Chocolate Snicker Pudding

Mix in a saucepan:

2 cut up Snicker’s bars

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

pinch of salt

Slowly add 3 cups of milk, stirring the whole time. Bring to a boil.

dsc00260.jpg The pudding is done and in the bowl.

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 According to my husband this was the best peach pie, ever.

I made changes in the recipe because the peaches were so juicy. I also wanted my top crust to stay crispy. So, I mixed 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of sugar. I put the sugar/flour mixture over the filling before dotting with butter and adding the top crust. (Don’t worry the top mixture of sugar and flour will cook into the pie. And, it will keep your top crust from becoming soggy.)

PEACH PIE FILLING:

 5 to 6 cups of peaches

1/2 to 2/3 cup white or brown sugar (I used 2/3 cup of white)

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dot with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter

DIRECTIONS: Bake the pie in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. The middle should be bubbling.

dsc00223.jpg How to peel peaches: dip the fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and put into a large bowl or pot of cold water and ice. The skins will easily slide off.

Healingmagichands of  http://healingmagichands.wordpress.com/, kindly added it is important to make sure the peaches are ripe before peeling. Otherwise the peels may not slip off.

Thanks for your help, Healingmagichands!

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Peaches ripening in a sunny window.

After a couple of days in a sunny window the peaches, saved from the beetles, were ripe and ready. I had enough to make a peach cobbler and a peach pie, plus some for the freezer. 

I love peach pies, crisps and cobblers, BUT with freshly ripened organic ones, this dessert is one of my favorites. Especially topped with vanilla ice cream.

dsc00224.jpg Getting ready to make peach cobbler.

SOUTHERN PEACH COBBLER FOR TWO

(Can be doubled)

FILLING:

2 cups peaches

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tsp. cornstarch

TOPPING:

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter cut into pieces

2 tablespoons whipping cream

dsc00227.jpg DIRECTIONS:

Grease small casserole dish with butter. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel & cut up peaches. Mix peaches and lemon juice. Mix cornstarch, brown sugar and cinnamon with peaches and put peaches into greased casserole dish.

 In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add the cream and toss with flour mixture just until the dough is combined.

 Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead a few times to smooth it. Then roll it out into the shape of the casserole dish. Place the dough over the filling and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. of sugar. Bake until the top is golden and the juices are bubbling. 25 to 30 minutes.

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 The cobbler is ready to eat.

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Our peach tree is heavy with fruit. DH planted it 7 years ago.

We had peaches!

Bad frosts and windstorms had taken our peaches before they reached marble size in previous years.  But, this year we had peaches turning golden, pink and red.  I dreamed of peach jams, cobblers, pies and crisps.  

I started checking the fruit daily, feeling peaches to see if they had softened. As the summer days lengthened, our tree, heavily laden with fruit, became as gorgeous and fragrant as any flower. 

I swear, I could smell the peaches ripening. Evidently so can Japanese Beetles.

 Yesterday disaster struck.

dsc00209.jpg Japanese Beetles devouring a “ripe” peach. 

Some peaches were ripe

BUT, every “ripe” peach was swarming with  and being devoured by Japanese beetles. Only the ripe peaches, mind you. The hard peaches, they left alone

DH and I grabbed ladders and sacks and began picking. We picked every peach we could. After soaking them to get rid of any insects I set them out on my counter as recommended here: http://tonytantillo.com/fruits/peaches.html

Some food experts recommend putting peaches into a paper bag to ripen. Others swear that the only way to have good ripe peaches is to only pick them at the moment of peak ripeness.

Mine were ready to eat after only a couple of days on the counter.

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Soaking the peaches to get rid of any remaining insects.

How to tell if peaches are ripe:

Attached to the tree: Peaches are best picked when the fruit separates easily from the twigs. If it is hard to pull off the tree, it isn’t ripe!

Color: Green is definitely unripe, but you can’t use red color as an indicator of how ripe a peach is. Different peach varieties have differing amounts of red blush in their natural coloring. Pick them when the ground color changes from green to yellow, orange, red (or a combination). The skin of yellow-fleshed varieties ripens to an orange tint, while the skin of white-fleshed varieties changes from greenish- to yellow-white.

Softness: Unless you like your peaches very firm, pick your peaches with just a little “give” when gently pressed. Peaches at this stage are great for eating, freezing, and baking. Peaches won’t ripen very much after picking!  

Odor: The peaches should smell sweet and ripe

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