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Lemon Verbena Poached Peaches

When I was cooking in France, there was a pastry chef who was always running around frantic with all of the things he had to do. He was fairly sure that the executive chef was going to kill him. Sometimes I helped him because I wanted him to get through the night without panicking. Sometimes I also helped him because I loved the smell of that lemon verbena so darn much.

It grew in the garden with the old gardener Emanuel and his three-legged cat and sometimes I would dart out there in the middle of service to get a sprig of rosemary while a plate of food waited under the plate warmer. We didn’t want it to go out without that dash of rosemary. Sometimes I went out to pick the lemon verbena too. Have you ever smelled it? It’s entirely, 110% intoxicating. Maybe even more so than basil. Gasp.

Lemon verbena is more than lemony. It has that third dimension, that je ne sais quoi, that mix of mint-meets-lemon-meets-magic carpet ride.

And so while the head chef walked around yelling and making dramatic gestures and wearing an 80s style pink scrunchy, the paranoid pastry chef and I poached peaches in a lemon verbena bath.

I loved it. And he taught me useful bread baking and dessert skills that pastry chef did. Wherever he is right now, I hope life is calmer for him.

These are some of the things that you’ll need, it’s easy peasy: peaches, white wine, lemon verbena, and sugar.

Add a whole bottle of white wine into a pot. Then add 8 cups of water too.

Then add your sugar.

Add the luscious lemon verbena. I leave the stems on but you could pluck them off.

Bring it all to a boil, give it a stir and then take it off the heat.

Drop the peaches in the pot and let them start to soak up the liquid.

Cover it to help the skin steam.

And after about 45 minutes they will look like this. A bit plump, a bit water logged, and so custardy and soft.

You may want to consider a sponge bath in this liquid. Or at least a dab on the temples. At least I did. Because I’m very strange that way.

When they’re still warm, peel the skin off. They will slip off very easily in an ideal world. As long as they are ripe and well-behaved peaches.

They have a natural seam in the center that you can cut all around to help separate them.

Give them a gentle pull and they will pop right open.

Remove the seed, and there they are in all of their gold and fuchsia glory.

Put them in your favorite serving dish and pour some of the syrup from the pot over them. To give them a glaze and keep them moist.

Garnish with some lemon verbena leaves if you’d like… or even a dollop of your favorite sorbet.

This is the perfect summer dish. The peaches are so soft, they have the texture of cream. And when you use the sweetest of peaches (my favorite are Frog Hollow Farm) it’s a magical dish. Enjoy!

“Lemon Verbena Poached Peaches”

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon verbena washed and on or off the stem
  • 4 ripe peaches washed


  • Combine the wine, water, sugar, and lemon verbena in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir, bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Remove from the stove.
  • Add the peaches to the hot liquid and cover for 45 minutes.
  • While still warm, use a paring knife to peel the skin from the peaches. There will be a seam around the circumference of the peach that you can cut gently with a paring knife to help you open them into halves.
  • Remove the pit and lay the halves down in a serving dish. Drizzle with a pit of the syrup and garnish with lemon verbena leaves, and if you'd like, your favorite sorbet.


  • Amanda
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Just beautiful Georgia! If you ever see me walking around with globs of frosting on my face its cause you said it was ok. Alright, so you rubbed a clear liquid on your temples, but its almost the same thing right?

    • Post Author
      Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      For sure! Just go for it I say. Tell anyone that gives you a hard time that I said so.

  • HeatherChristo
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Georgia- these peaches are simply gorgeous. And what a great way to use up some of my overgrown lemon verbena!

  • Cookbook Queen
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm


    I love lemon verbena, its such a clean smell. One of my favorite scents in all the land.

    • Post Author
      Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Clean! That’s the word I needed to describe it. So perfect. Haha, and you are so funny… “all the land.” I’m going to use that for the next week if that’s ok.

  • Bev Weidner
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm


    Would it be okay to take this through an IV?

  • Nancy@acommunaltable
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Wow… these are gorgeous!!!

    We definitely are on the same wavelength here Georgia since I LOVE lemon verbena – have had no luck growing it, but I love it all the same.

    Paired with fresh peaches – oh my goodness!!!

  • Maria
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    We have a lemon verbena plant. It is the best! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Amy | She Wears Many Hats
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    OooOoOoooh! I wonder if I could do the same thing with lime basil? I have a ton of it, just a ton. You’ve got me thinking…

    • Post Author
      Posted August 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      That sounds like it would be divine!

    Posted August 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    have to say that lemon verbena might, just might, be my favorite herb – i love the intensity it adds to a dish . . . am quite sad i didn’t grow any in my garden this year. i also have to say that i’ve seen dozens and dozens of poached desserts and have never taken the time to make them. we have a pear tree that is LOADED w/pears – i may just have to poach a few in something!

  • Lili
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Anything peaches and my knees buckle! What a great combo of flavors!

  • Courtney
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    omg – this sounds amazing!

  • Lana @ Never Enough Thyme
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    How absolutely beautiful. I just happen to have some lemon verbena in my herb garden and some perfectly ripe peaches in the kitchen. I need to get them together!

  • Molly Chester
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Whoa… beautiful! You can tell from the picture that they are other-worldly.

  • Brooke @ Food Woolf
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    This is such a show stopper of a dish. Elegant. Simple. And all about nature’s beauty. I think herbs are TOTALLY intoxicating. And for anyone who wants to make this beautiful dessert, buy a nice bunch of the stuff and use the extra verbena for tea or a soothing steam for your face! Yay!

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 2:31 am

    That sounds heavenly! And I would most definitely take a sponge bath in that liquid, lol.

  • bridget {bake at 350}
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 6:39 am

    They are gorgeous!

  • Melanie
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Wow I can’t wait to make this. I love peaches but my husband can’t get over the fuzzy skin, the pansy. But this would be perfect. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  • Rene Foust
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Oh my they sound amazing! I will have to give this a try for sure. If you ever hear from your pastry chef friend please let us know; I am going to worry about him now. I sure hope he has found a much less stressful work environment.

  • MeL. V
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I came upon your website two days ago and I love it! This sort of recipe is exactly what I look for. Simple and delicious. Thanks!

    • Post Author
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Mel, thanks for visiting! I’m glad my recipes are up your alley 🙂

  • Kathleen
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I’m totally with you on the magic that is lemon verbena. I love it so much I have it growing in multiple places of my very small garden! These peaches look absolutely divine and I look forward to making them soon! 😉

  • Wenderly
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Lemon verbena is one of my all time favs too! I love to use lemon verbena soap, but then I walk around smelling my arm. Which makes people wonder what I’m doing. So then I hafta explain. Maybe I should just carry a branch around? 🙂

    • Post Author
      Posted August 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Ooh, I love the idea of soap. I want to find a lemon verbena soap bar next. Or maybe I’ll make the soap myself, my friend does it all the time and it’s my favorite soap.

  • Ashley@BakerbyNature
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 1:59 am

    I need these in my life- now! I’ve yet to experience lemon verbena, but now the search is on. Gorgeous work, and your visiting you is always an inspiration!

  • Stuart
    Posted July 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I live in rural MN and can’t find any lemon verbena (gasp), could whole vanilla beans be an appropriate substitute? If so, how many? If not what other substitutes would be amazing and delicious? Thanks!

    • Post Author
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Hi Stuart! You could try a whole host of other herbs: thyme, oregano, basil, tarragon to name a few. You could also split open one vanilla bean and use it. Or for something more lemony, bruise a piece of lemon grass with the back of a knife, cut it into 3-inch pieces and add it to your pot of peaches. Let us know how it turns out!

      • Stuart
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 11:43 am

        I tried it with the vanilla bean and it was a hit! We didn’t have the greatest peaches available, surprise, but it made them taste so much better. I could tell that one half of the peach favored the bath over the other however. Is there a way to ensure equal soaking without letting too much heat or steam out, something to keep them fully submerged without bruising? I didn’t want to throw out all that delicious “juice” so I saved it to use again when pears come into season, would the procedure be pretty much the same? I am very excited to see if a memory of peaches still lingers after the pears. Then maybe try it on some chicken! Thanks!

        • Post Author
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm

          All great ideas! You want to make sure you rotate them over every so often to ensure all sides cook evenly. You cook try to submerge them with a plate but I find it isn’t necessary if you rotate them.

  • cobus
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Fantastic – going to try right away! Had this in south of france and loved it thus went looking for recipe – very happy to find yours.
    If I make more, how long can I keep this (e.g. in sterlizied jar)? And how best – in the fridge?

    • Post Author
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

      They will keep in the fridge for at least a week, possibly more. Canning is a whole other matter, you’ll probably need to pressure can because of the low acidity but consult and canning book for proper canning times and acidity levels, which you can test with a pH strip.

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