Georgia's 2012 peach season is here
Our state’s most famous crop is moving towards its prime time. If you buy your peaches at a grocery store that doesn’t specialize in local produce, you are missing the best of the crop. Those that come hard as baseballs (because they were picked green and shipped) have only a hint of the flavor (even if you let them ripen) that you’ll get when you buy them from a farmer or a market that bought them directly from the farmer.
Peaches available right now, at the first of the season, are of the cling variety – the meat of the fruit clings to the pit. Freestones will be ready in a few weeks. The various kinds of peaches each have their own flavor. I think the freestones are as delicious as candy – but I’m always excited to find the first peaches of the year, no matter what variety. Check Thomas Peaches’ website for a list of what is available when. For recipes, see Gapeaches.org where you’ll also see a little of the history – including where the Elberta peach got its name.
In South Georgia, you’ll find peaches picked on site at Lane Orchards (right on I-75), Pearson Farms and Dickey Farms, among others. Thomas Orchards, Greenhouse and Gift shop is located in Watkinsville just outside of Athens. The beautiful little shop makes a trip that way well worth it. Jaemor Farms is located in Alto, just north of Gainesville and on your way to the North Georgia mountains. It offers a large selection of locally grown produce, as well as cakes, pies, breads and of course, peach and apple turnovers (and there's stuff for the kids to do!)
Better hurry – for those of us who love really fresh peaches, it is a very short season. It will end in early August.