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Pueblo Peach Pandemonium

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Deliciousness began 2 decades ago in my Denver kitchen after deciding the squirrels weren’t going to win the backyard peach war.  Knowing nothing about jam making I stirred up a batch of peach jam from the peaches I had sequestered from the squirrels and to make it a little more interesting I poured in some whiskey. Deliciousness was born.  Now, every year, for the last 9 years, we have the big “peach production” event where we go from lazily producing a pot or two a week of various flavors, some weeks none at all, to cooking dozens and dozens of peachy pots over a 6 week period while the freshest, juiciest, prettiest peaches come flowing out of Paonia, Colorado. 

As our reach has grown, so too have our kitchen needs. This year to achieve the feat we made a big leap from our former restaurant kitchen in Denver to a co-op kitchen in a former junior high school in the middle of farm fields 30 miles east of Pueblo in a sliver of a town called Boone, CO.

Why here? A couple reasons. For years we have exclusively worked with the Paonia/Hotchkiss region for sourcing all our orchard fruit. 3 years ago we began experimenting with adding roasted Pueblo Green Chilies to those peaches and our friends at Jojo’s Sriacha introduced us to the pepper grower Dan Hobbs they knew, as they had years prior been lured to this growing region by the fields and fields of hot peppers perfect for their products. Then they showed us where they were working. Now we find ourselves walking those same junior high school hallways with the very folks that grow those peppers and learning about the newest projects they are working on. It’s been very exciting. 

Not only do we get to share space with a fellow maker we really respect, Jojo's, which in itself is inspiring, but we feel a direct connection to the earth, the soil, the origin of where our ingredients are born, and tended to. In the morning we drive behind tractors hauling loads of watermelons and chilies and pumpkins. During the day we see those farmers coming in with their loads of squash and tomatoes and carrots and yes, chilies, lots and lots of chilies. We share a cooler space and we wheel our peach laden carts around the piles of produce being cleaned and sorted and divided into boxes headed to folks in the community that have bought into helping sustain small independent farmers with CSA shares. 

Progress and experiementation isn’t without pain though. To perform this multi zone connection I’ve had to lift my Denver team from their moorings, find supplementary help in regions unknown during times of Covid and vaccine resistance, define new transitory routes for piles of peaches, work out the kinks in a new kitchen space unused to high intensity production with pots and pots of boiling hot jam during one of the hottest summers on record, live in a barely big enough rental house with my team, valet my ailing dog and his giant dog bed from place to place, and attempt to get 8x the amount of production done with 2x the amount of people. New people. It’s been hard. On everyone. And sometimes I wasn’t sure it was worth it. You will have to tell me.

 

In the end, we have thousands of jars of both Colorado Whiskey Peach Deliciousness, and our fast growing in popularity, Pueblo Chile Peach Deliciousness, and we got to experience a part of Colorado we had never explored before. Which was my favorite part TBH. From floating the Pueblo Reservoir, to going to post offices in the sleepy towns of Boone & Avondale, witnessing the yearly tarantula migration, going to the State Fair, walking the Riverwalk, exploring the nearby towns of Beulah, Westcliffe and climbing the incredible Bishops Castle we did our best to understand this part of the state, digging into the terroir of those big beautiful Pueblo Chilies. This area has had quite a journey through history. I encourage you to watch the PBS special on it

 

So, all that to say, Colorado Whiskey Peach, which we sold out of in January of this year, is back in stock and shipping now. We can’t say we made enough to last till we make it again, we just haven’t been able to physically make that happen for a couple years now, though we did make slightly more this year than last, if you want it, you better get it. Same goes for it’s baby brother Pueblo Chile Peach, which this year is 2 or 3 notches higher in the hotness scale. Don’t be scared though, once you pair those sizzlers with some sweet, sweet peaches, sugar and vanilla, things get real balanced and lovely. You will like the additional warmth this years batch is providing. I believe. 

This year was one of pushing ourselves out of our box and while it came with some discomfort I am proud of my team and it's ability to make the best of a tough situation and as always, help me create the worlds best preserves. We had a lot of fun Pueblo. Looks like we'll be back. xo

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