Summer Is Sweet, So Eat Up!
As we roll into the peak of summer, it’s time to take advantage of summer’s sweetness. Peaches and blackberries are ripe and delicious this time of year, and if you live in the Richmond, Virginia area, there are plenty of local places where you can pick your own fruit!
For many of us, the sweet aroma of fresh, juicy peaches is about as summer-y as summer gets. Whether you celebrate the season with peach-filled backyard barbeques, tend to favor cool peach ice cream on warm days, love the first bite of warm peach cobbler, or seize every opportunity to bite into a smooth, fresh peach, no other fruit represents the summer season quite as beautifully as peaches.
WHERE TO GET FRESH PEACHES
As summer rolls forward, you’ll find oodles of peaches at your local farmers’ markets, and there are also great nearby options that allow you to pick your own peaches. Hanover Peaches, located in Mechanicsville, is super convenient for RVA residents, or if your schedule allows, Chiles Peach Orchard in Charlottesville makes for an easy and fun day trip.
If you’re planning on canning or preserving your freshly-picked peaches, and you don’t need them to look perfect, it’s also worth reaching out to the U-Pick locations to ask about “scratch & dent” peaches. While still perfect for canning or cooking, these peaches usually have a few blemishes that make them less than ideal for selling at market. They’re no less delicious than their beautiful sisters, and their price point is far prettier.
NOT ALL PEACHES ARE CREATED EQUAL
While pretty much all peaches are equally delicious for straight-up eating, you’ll want to take note of two distinct kinds of peaches when you’re seeking easy-to-use varieties for cooking and canning: cling and freestone.
As you might be able to guess from their names, cling peaches and freestone peaches differ based on the way the flesh of the fruit attaches to the pit, or “stone.” For cling varieties, you’ll find the fruit tightly attached to the pit, so freeing the fruit from the stone requires some work. The effort it takes to free the fruit from the stone of a cling peach doesn’t matter if you’re biting into a fresh peach, but when it comes to prep time in the kitchen, that extra work becomes a bigger hassle.
If you’re looking for quick and easy ways to prepare and preserve peaches, you’ll want to skip the cling varieties and instead opt for freestone peaches. Unlike their clingy counterparts, freestone varieties are a breeze to prepare: The pit separates easily from the flesh, making your prep work significantly faster. Fortunately for the chefs among us, you’ll find that most of the locally available U-Pick peaches are the freestone variety.
If you just want peachy deliciousness in your mouth as soon as possible, pretty much any fresh peaches will do, but why stop there when the sky’s the limit? If you’re down to try something new, you can easily saute peaches, blend them into smoothies, bake them into desserts, dice them into a fresh summer salsa, grill them up, top a salad with them - the possibilities with peaches are practically endless!
BEYOND PEACHES: BACK TO BLACKBERRIES
Though we’ve mentioned summer berries before, they warrant a repeat cameo with this season’s blackberries ripe and ready for picking. If the thought of blackberry picking leaves you cringing thanks to painful memories of thorny thickets, good news: Most of the U-Pick options these days boast thornless vines that make it easy to harvest these delicate, flavorful berries. Our featured farm this month, Newcastle Bee & Berry Farm, has plenty of thornless vines and big, juicy berries just waiting to be picked!
Nearly as versatile as peaches, blackberries are great fresh, frozen, as a compote, made into coulis, whipped up into a cobbler, or just about any way you can think to prepare them. With a little planning, a lot of harvesting, and some quality time in the kitchen, you’ll be able to enjoy blackberry season all year round.
Want to take advantage of summer’s sweetness while peaches and blackberries are in season, but don’t have the time to make it happen? Making it Real can help! Enjoy fresh, delicious, local food on your table without the hassle of picking and preparing. Simply place your order today.