Are we there yet?
Remember when you were a kid, road tripping in the family station wagon, wondering when you were going to reach your destination. The back seat and passing hours barely contain your excitement.
Are we there yet?
That’s how I feel about peach season.
Anticipation builds with that first hint of summer. Temperatures start to get a little bit warmer, the kids are finally let out of school.
And– I’m bombarded with fruit-filled memories from my childhood. I’m sitting on the kitchen counter, peach juice is dripping down the front of my overalls. I’m “helping” my grandmother make her famous peach cobbler for the fourth of July.
Are we there yet?
Almost, my fellow peach fans.
Until then, hang tight and mark your calendars! Here’s how these luscious, peach crops came to the country and when they make their appearance across the U.S.
A Brief History of Peaches
Every serious peach aficionado should know a little background information about this fine stone fruit. Here’s a short background.
The peach originated in China, where they were cultivated in the Yangtze River Valley. Archaeologists actually found fossilized peach stones dating back to 6000 BC.
Peaches moved west via the Silk Roads (the ancient trade routes between China and the Roman Empire) to Persia. That’s how they earned their botanical name, Prunus persica. Enter Alexander the Great, who, after conquering the Persians around 340 BC, had the good sense to bring a variety of peach seeds back to Europe.
Now this is where things get fuzzy.
There’s a couple different explanations for how they finally made their way to the U.S. The first was via Franciscan monks arriving in St. Augustine, Florida, in the mid-1500s. The second involved a horticulturist from England named George Minifie, who brought seeds to the colonies in the early 17th century.
At any rate, our favorite fruit made it to our shores, and the trees proliferated quickly throughout the south thanks to being easy to grow from seed, and easy portability and preservation of peach pits. Commercial production began in the 19th century in Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.
When is Peach Season?
There’s nothing like peaches in season. Thankfully, with so many varieties that can be grown in a number of regions through the U.S., you can get fresh-picked fruit for much of the year. But summer is the peak peach picking season, and that generally means May through late September.
There are about 33 states that grow peaches. And when to harvest peaches varies by state. Here’s when they’re available in a few select places.
Road trip anyone?
When are peaches ripe? (By State)
Peach time in Georgia begins in mid-May. Clingstone varieties mature first—they’re the kind of peaches where the flesh clings to the pit. Next to ripen are the semi-clingstone peaches followed by the freestones, popular varieties where the flesh literally falls away from the pit (then proceeds to drip down your chin).
California’s Mediterreanean climate of mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers mean peach lovers can enjoy the fruit through the end of summer. And with California’s vast amount of ideal farm land and excellent soil conditions, it produces more peaches than the other 32 peach-growing states combined.
With a climate that’s a little colder than Georgia’s, South Carolina’s growing season ends shortly after. They’re a peach powerhouse, whose production levels are just behind California’s.
North Carolina’s season spans about four months, and peaks in July. Peach fans can find orchards throughout the state producing as many as 70 different varieties.
You probably think of citrus when you think of Florida produce, but it is actually one of the largest producers of peaches in the U.S. Since it has an especially warm year-round climate, their season starts much earlier.
I suppose we should expect The “Garden” State to produce a lot of peaches. And since their climate is a little milder than the Southern states, their peaches don’t peak till a little later.
Idaho’s cold long winters mean that warmer temperatures don’t arrive well into June and July. Though it would be absolute torture to wait until the month of August for a fresh-picked peach, knowing I could eat them through October sounds pretty awesome.
How to Tell When Peaches Are Ripe
I can’t think of many things as disappointing as biting into an unripened peach. Now, sometimes peaches just need a day or two on the counter to get juicy or maybe a little time in a paper bag. Other times they’ve just been picked off the tree way too soon.
For perfect tree-ripened peaches, place an order with The Peach Truck or visit your local farmers market. But when you’re in the produce section of the supermarket, standing before a giant display of peaches and feeling a little confused, here’s how to identify a delicious, ready-to-eat peach.
Now that you’re armed with all the requisite peach info, you can start thinking about what you’re going to do with all that delicious fruit.
Of course, you might like eating all your peaches fresh, but why not let them be the star of a recipe or two? Consider planning a peach-themed dinner party. Start with a peach beer cocktail followed by a main course of jerk chicken with peach chutney. Then knock your guests’ socks off with peaches and cream bars for dessert.
And if you need a little assistance sourcing the main ingredient, ping The Peach Truck for delivery straight to your doorstep. Every peach we ship is backed by our Fresh Guarantee so you can count on getting the best peaches of the season.