Peaches

New column up at the Register Star.

While Georgia is known as the “Peach State,” I’ve tasted some darn good peaches here in New York. The local peach crop is now in full swing, so be sure to grab some.

The best place to get a peach is to pick one right from a tree. My friend Douglas said that he never buys supermarket peaches (unless they are local) because they go from being rock hard to mushy.

Peaches bound for the supermarket are cultivated for a long shelf life and a pretty red color. Flavor gets a back seat. They are also refrigerated, which can turn an unripe peach mealy.

Apparently we’ve been having that problem since the late 19th century. This from a New York Times editorial dated Aug. 23, 1895, written in response to an article claiming California peaches were of poor quality: A defense of California peaches – those sent to New York are poor because picked too soon, by Charles Vogelgesang:

The fruit is picked only half ripened, thus, in the first place, depriving it of the nourishment and sunshine necessary to give it its full flavor and sweetness. Consequently, it ripens without those essentials and, as I will admit, with very poor results as we usually find it in New York markets and thereby the fruit is placed at a sorry disadvantage when compared with that allowed to ripen on the trees and shipped comparatively few miles before reaching the consumer.

I always search out organic peaches. The Environmental Working Group, a not-for-profit research organization, has a list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables, called the “Dirty Dozen.” Peaches top that list. They have the highest pesticide residue out of the 42 fruits and vegetables they tested. Pesticides easily migrate into the fruit through the soft skin of the peach. Since local peaches don’t have to travel far, farmers can get by with using less pesticide. Ask your peach farmer about his/her pesticide practices and/or shop for the organic variety.

Go to the Register Star for Peach Cobbler and Grilled Shrimp with Peaches and Bok Choy in a Spicy Peanut Sauce recipes.