Time for Pie with Maine Peaches

The peaches on my Reliant and Red Haven trees are ripe and ready. Now, every year that I go into raptures over the wonderful flavor of my peaches, one of my regular readers writes to say that there is, in so any words, no Maine-ripened peach that can hold a candle to a ripe Southern tree. That may well be, but since I have never been in the South in peach season, I can’t make the comparison for myself. I can, however, compare my peaches to the things that look like peaches in the produce section of any Maine supermarket, and I dare say any Maine peach in late August or early September is going to come out way ahead. My peaches smell like peaches, drip sweetly, and have tender juicy flesh. For about two to three weeks we have peaches early and often and I concoct peachy things.

This week, I suggested pie, and Toby asked if I would put a crumb topping on it made with real butter instead of topping with a standard pastry crust. So, I thought: Why not?

The peaches vary in size, so I peeled and sliced until I had a generous four to six cups to spread in an eight-inch pie plate. Generally, I dislike thickening berry and stone fruit pies, like blueberry or peach, with flour or cornstarch; I prefer a sprinkle of tapioca. Right now, the peaches are so sweet that I only scattered a little light brown sugar on them, and forgot about spice. If I had remembered, I’d’ve grated in a little nutmeg; cinnamon is good, too.

Streusel or crumb topping contains flour, sugar, and butter; easy and useful, it’s good on coffee cake and muffins, on fruit crisps or crumbles, and on pie. I bet if you baked it all by itself, you’d find someone willing to eat it with a spoon. The proportions of the three ingredients can vary, with equal quantities of sugar and butter and half again as much flour; or less sugar and more butter and flour. Some recipes call for adding finely chopped nuts. Some recipes use white sugar, some light brown. Some recipes recommend adding spice, like cinnamon, to the streusel. There is a high tinker-ability quotient on this stuff.

Try the recipe below, tweak to taste or follow along the first time, and tweak next time. Let me know how it goes.

Peach Streusel Pie
  • Pastry sufficient for one eight to nine-inch crust
  • 4-6 cups peeled and sliced peaches
  • 1 tablespoon instant tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg, or to taste
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup or ½ stick butter
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  1. Line a pie plate with the pastry and crimp edges.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the sliced peaches with the tapioca, sugar and spice.
  3. Put the fruit into the pastry lined pie plate.
  4. Using a pastry cutter or food processor work the flour, butter, and brown sugar together until it appears crumbly, finishing with a spoon or your fingers to make clumps.
  5. Sprinkle evenly over the on top of the fruit.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 then reduce temperature to 350 and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until fruit filling bubbles and the crumb topping is golden brown.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.