Palisade peaches and Pueblo chiles taste just like summer
By Lisa Truesdale
Our state is famous for an abundance of wonderful things, and two of the tastiest show up by the bushel-full during the summer months. Unlike our legendary mountain views and nonstop sunshine, though, Palisade peaches and Pueblo chiles are only available for a short time each year, so make your plans now to get your fill—you definitely don’t want to miss out. Both should be available locally by late June or early July; if you can’t make it to one of the festivals (or if your taste buds simply can’t wait that long), check farmers markets, temporary roadside stands and grocery stores.
The Grand Valley on the Western Slope has the ideal microclimate for growing peaches—hot days fed by warm winds coming off the mesas, but cool nights. The region’s unique weather helps develop the natural sugars in peaches, resulting in plump, sweet and lip-smackingly juicy fruit.
Fresh Palisade peaches are normally available from late June until about mid-September. To choose the perfect piece of fruit, check near the stem. If the skin around the stem is green, your peach is going to be fairly firm—great for grilling. If the skin around the stem is yellow or red, then the peach is nice and ripe and ready to eat. Be sure to have a napkin handy!
Celebrate Palisade Peaches!
22nd Annual Lafayette Peach Festival, August 21
More than 30,000 pounds of fresh Palisade peaches land in Lafayette each year for this mouth-watering festival. You’ll find them in peach pies, peach cobbler, peach smoothies, peach jams and much more. You can also purchase peaches to take home for your own peachy creations. The festival includes arts and crafts booths, food and drink vendors, kids’ activities and live entertainment. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. along Public Road in Old Town Lafayette; lafayettecolorado.com.
In the mood for a road trip? Palisade’s own peach festival takes place Aug. 19-21.
Combine southeastern Colorado’s hot, sunny summer days with its rich soil and pure Rocky Mountain water, and what do you get? Some of the most flavorful chiles around, attracting the attention of chile aficionados from all over the world.
A Pueblo chile’s heat is similar to that of a moderate jalapeño, and when you’re choosing yours, remember that size matters—the smaller the chile, the hotter it is.
Fresh Pueblo chiles are normally available from about July 1 to October 30. Visit pueblochile.org for tips on roasting and freezing fresh chiles so you can enjoy them year-round.
Celebrate Pueblo Chiles!
27th Annual Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival, September 24–26
This year’s weekend-long event pays tribute to the very first festival, 27 years ago, when the whole shindig only took up one block and the organizers never dreamed it would be so popular. If you’re a big fan of these tasty chiles, it’s worth a trip south to Pueblo. A few popular attractions, like the Frijole Spitting Contest and the Chihuahua Parade, won’t be happening this year, but there’s still the Chile & Salsa Showdown, chile-roasting booths, farm stands and live music. festival.pueblochamber.org
Palisade Peach-Pueblo Chile Salsa
1 ½ pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
2-3 Pueblo chiles, about 4 inches long, roasted*, peeled
3 Palisade peaches, halved, pitted, grilled and chopped
¼ cup diced onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of one lime
(Note: All amounts can be adjusted to suit your taste.)
Combine all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl. Taste and adjust salt, spices and lime juice if desired. Cover and allow to chill in fridge for at least an hour before serving so the flavors can meld. Store in fridge for up to a week.
This will be pretty chunky, like a pico de gallo. If you prefer a smoother salsa, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the desired texture is achieved.
*For chile-roasting tips, see pueblochile.org.