Just peachy

August 07, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

"It's just a little festival," says Kenny Mongan, a member of the Leitersburg Ruritan Club.

The "little festival" is the 23rd annual Leitersburg Peach Festival, ready for the picking this weekend at Leitersburg Community Park, 6 miles north of Hagerstown. Mongan estimates about 10,000 visitors will visit the little village park Saturday and Sunday.

The focus of the festival is the peach - the fuzzy, reddish-golden globe that sings the song of summer with every bite.

Several local orchardists will be selling the tree-ripened fruits of their labors. There will be peaches in many forms - jams, jellies, tea and, of course, peach pie.


The annual peach pie contest, with open-faced and closed categories, will take place at noon on Saturday, Aug. 10. Winners will be awarded ribbons and cash prizes, and the pies will be auctioned.

There also will be plenty of food of the non-peach variety, including pork barbecue and Italian sausage sandwiches, french fries and funnel cakes.

About 70 crafters will be on hand.

Women of the Leitersburg Grange have been stitching a "Peach Dahlia" quilt. The handmade coverlet will be raffled Sunday at the close of the festival. Tickets will be available during the festival, and other items also will be raffled. Proceeds will benefit community charities of the Grange.

Ernie Bradley & Grassy Ridge will be in town Saturday from Nashville, Tenn., to play their bluegrass and country music. On Sunday, the Camp Hill, Pa., band, Saxy, will play rock 'n' roll.

There will be pony rides and a petting zoo, a display of antique tractors and a Civil War encampment in the park's wooded area. Leitersburg history will be on display at the fire hall.

Visitors can check out the park's peachy new playground. The $23,000 project is the result of the Ruritan Club's past fund-raising, an impressive amount for an organization of 18 or 19 members.

Mongan calls the festival a good fund-raiser for the small club.

The festival also is good for those who like peaches. What will you do with your peaches when you get them home?

You can eat them - plain and simple. But here are a few other options.

Doris Itnyre of Leitersburg has been a member of the local Grange since she retired in 1978 or '79. For the past four or five years, she's been making Honey Peach Butter to sell at the festival. "It's time consuming," she says. But the sweet concoction is good on waffles, she says emphatically and without hesitation.

The butter sells for $1.50 for an 8-ounce jar.

Although Itnyre hasn't seen him for a couple of years, a man from Frederick, Md., or Washington, D.C., who used to come to the festival and buy four pints of the peach butter, told her it was good on bagels.

In years past, the youth group from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Leitersburg made and sold peach cobbler, says Diane Snowberger, who was involved in the fund-raising project which netted $400 to $500 for the group each year. Church members used seven to 10 bushels of peaches for the festival cobbler.

If you want to think peach outside the bushel basket, try the recipe for Salmon Yakatori with Peaches, with other recipes on page C3.

If you go

Twenty-third Annual Leitersburg Peach Festival

Saturday, Aug. 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 11, noon to 5 p.m.

Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park (grounds of former Leitersburg School House), behind the fire hall, 6 miles north of Hagerstown off Md. 60

Admission and parking are free.

Peach pointers


If a recipe calls for peeled peaches, submerge peaches into boiling water about 20 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into cold water. The skins should slip right off.

Preserving color

To keep peaches bright and fresh looking, dip or sprinkle with citrus juice or commercial ascorbic acid mixture.


Halve and pit fresh, unpeeled peaches, slice into blender with dash of lemon juice and process. Use as a base for drinks, sauces and other recipes. Be sure peaches are washed before handling.


Freeze peeled and quartered peaches. Stir 1 quart fruit with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons commercial ascorbic acid mixture. Pack peaches in plastic freezer bags. Freeze in single layer until frozen, then stack.

Peach arithmetic

One pound fresh peaches

= 2 large or 3 medium-sized peaches

= 2 cups peeled and sliced peaches

= 1 2/3 cups peeled and diced peaches

=1 1/2 cups peeled and pured peaches

Peach care

Fresh peaches release ethylene, the gas that promotes ripening. Quantities of peaches should be ripened together to stimulate the production of ethylene.

The best ripening climate is created in a loosely closed paper bag or ripening bowl kept at room temperature. Check progress daily.

When fresh peaches are ripe, serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. Treat gently. Serve peaches at room temperature for the best flavor.

- Lynn F. Little, Extension Educator, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County

Salmon Yakatori with peaches

1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 16 large cubes

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