The Peach Truck hits the road again this summer; where to find it and a peach tart recipe
Peach season has returned to the South, ushering in the return of The Peach Truck, a beloved Nashville business specializing in bringing freshly picked peaches to the people.
Stephen and Jessica Rose launched the business a decade ago, two years after moving to Nashville, which they described as a "peach desert."
That didn't sit well with Stephen Rose, who grew up in Fort Valley, Georgia, the county seat of Peach County.
"The best part about growing up there was that in the summer peaches were everywhere," he said. "I grew up tasting peaches just like you're supposed to — right off the tree."
Before the Roses were married, they traveled to Georgia to eat fresh fruit straight off the tree. The incomparable flavor of sun-ripened peaches inspired them to create a business that solved the problem of shipping and handling the fragile fruit to Nashville.
"The problem is distribution," Stephen Rose said. "If you can cut out the middle man and bring fresh peaches straight from the farm, it makes all the difference in the world."
Now The Peach Truck sells Georgia and South Carolina peaches at dozens of Nashville walk-up booths and during a summer-long tour, delivering the fruit to 24 states within two days of picking.
"Fresh off the tree changes everything," Rose said. "Once you taste it, you don't go back."
The Peach Truck partners directly with farmers to deliver a multitude of seasonal varieties of peaches, starting with clingstone peaches in May and ending with later-season freestones.
Even though Tennessee shares part of its border with Georgia, shipping presents challenges. The trick is working with the right trucking partners who know how to move boxes gently. It also means picking the fruit at the exact correct ripeness, said Jessica Rose.
"We time them specifically so that when you get your bag or your box on tour, they have a good bit of firmness on day one," she said. "You leave them on your counter and if when you squeeze them they give like an avocado, that's perfect."
There's a certain amount of peach education required at the consumer level, she said.
Helping in that vein is "The Peach Truck Cookbook," a 100-recipe book the Roses released in 2019. It's a useful guide for learning how to process 25 pounds of peaches, the smallest unit available on The Peach Truck Tour.
Distributing all of those boxes is facilitated by semi, a far cry from the Roses' original peach truck: a 1964 Jeep Gladiator, a pickup with plenty of carrying capacity and a bum clutch.
Jessica Rose would leave her house-cleaning business and jump in the Gladiator, bringing peaches to the doorsteps of prominent Nashville restaurants to drum up business. Tandy Wilson at City House was one of the first to open the door.
"He loved them and didn't keep it a secret," Jessica Rose said. "He told all of his peers, which was a generous act on his part."
Now "The Peach Truck" appears on menus around the city, which helps generate even more name recognition for the brand. A decade after launching as a strictly owner-operated company, The Peach Truck now has 16 full-time employees, a number that balloons seasonally to 150 team members or more.
"We started this in 2012 when Nashville was a different city than it was today," said Stephen Rose. "We were welcomed with open arms by a community that said, 'We want to put you on our menu and buy your peaches each week. Thank you for adding something delicious to town.'"
Though The Peach Truck has more than 60 booths in Nashville, you don't have to live in the city to get peaches. Boxes can be ordered for shipment nationwide, and The Peach Truck will visit 24 states this year. Visit thepeachtruck.com for more details on booths, boxes and tour dates.
Lemon Peach Curd Tart
Courtesy of “The Peach Truck.”
Number of Servings: 8
Hands on Time: 30 min
Total Time: 3 hours
6 ounces of gingersnap cookies (about 24 cookies, 2 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 medium peaches, pitted, sliced
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons corn starch
½ cup lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
Chopped candied ginger, for serving
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F.
Place cookies in food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Pour crumbs into a bowl. Add melted butter, stirring with a fork until well combined. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 8 minutes or until slightly puffed, lightly browned, and fragrant. Reshape sides of tart with spoon if necessary. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
To make the curd: Puree peaches in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 ½ cups peach puree. Whisk together sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1 ½ cups peach puree and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens, 4-5 minutes.
Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in about 1 cup of the hot peach puree. Add egg mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 1-2 minutes or until just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and press through a wire mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Whisk in lemon zest and two tablespoons butter until butter melts and mixture is smooth.
To make the tart: Pour warm curd into tart shell just to fill the crust (you may have some curd left over). Cover with plastic wrap and chill two hours or until set. Slice tart and top each serving with whipped cream and candied ginger.
Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.
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