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the annual frustrating search for a good peach

  • m

so many mushy ones. cardboard-like ones. tart ones. duds that never come close to ripening. CANT THE PEACH INDUSTRY DO SOMETHING??!!

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  1. Ahh, the never ending search for the perfect peach. I've decided that all you can do is go where the good peaches are, when it is the season. Good peaches do not travel well unfortunately.

    I keep trying them and hoping for that wonderful perfect peach that reminds you life is good and the world is an ok place after all. If it happens once every couple of years, i consider myself lucky.

    1 Reply
    1. re: moh

      Near Spokane, Washington there's a farm area called Greenbluff. They have U-Pick strawberries, cherries, peaches and apples every year. My parents live there and I usually schedule a visit to go out and pick a couple boxes of Red Havens or Daroga Reds. Unbelievably good... Sadly they ripened early this year and were completely gone by mid-August and I totally missed out. Sniff :(

    2. I have given up on supermarket peaches, and now buy them only at certified farmer's markets. I've found three or four vendors who consistently have good fruit, and I'll patronize them every time.

      1. I've given up on buying peaches because the duds far outnumber the good ones. At least with lots of other fruits, even if they aren't the best, they aren't totally inedible. With peaches, they're mealy, mushy, or flavorless. Even if I am in an area with good peaches, I still have bad luck because I open the peach up and it's filled with critters. Sigh.

        1. I have fallen into this trap 3 x this summer and only once had a good peach. Giving up it is not worth the money. They are flavourless, mushy, floury. They look good and that's it.

          1. Strange as it may sound, the best peaches that we buy (that aren't from Wickham's on LI) are from Costco. We have had some unbelievably fabulous peaches from there. One year, I was making peach crisp for a BBQ, and I did n't even have to add sugar. In general, we find the produce at Costco to be superior to the average garden variety supermarket produce. Nothing beats a tree-ripened peach purchased at the farm, but this is a darn close second.

            1 Reply
            1. re: roxlet

              I've been buying peaches at Costco the few weeks too. OUr peach season is early in Arizona, I did pick some this year and they were the best I'd had in years but they're done now. The ones at Costco are sweet and juicy, not like fresh of the trees though.

            2. My husband and I have been going through 2 quarts a week of wonderful farmers' market peaches here in south-central Indiana. Our season runs July-September, and that's the only time of the year we eat this fruit. Gave up on supermarket peaches years ago.

              2 Replies
              1. re: pikawicca

                drooooool.... so jealous Pikawicca! Please eat a quart for me, and think of all the poor peachless fools who live in places where they don't grow peaches...

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Val H. made a great peach daiquri for the Slow Foods brunch on Sunday with Red Havens from the Farmer's Market. I wish you could have tasted it. Divine! She also made some scrumptious fried corm with Mc C's. corn. The peach I have to duplicate, maybe this weekend. Indiana peaches are at their peak and so good. We have to make the most of them now.

                2. I live in Ontario and simply will not buy peaches anywhere except at our local farmers market - EVER. Even when the peaches are in season and grown in Ontario, supermarkets will have terrible peaches. I think they get over-refrigerated during shipping to stores, which I believe aborts the ripening process. In the end, these supermarket peaches - even the ones FROM Ontario, even in the cute little baskets - never end up ripening properly and never have good flavour or texture. The peaches sold at legitimate farmers markets have never been refrigerated and ripen beautifully, if they're not already perfect when you buy them.

                  23 Replies
                  1. re: Nyleve

                    I have actually had some good grocery store Ontario peaches as recently as two years ago... last year I bought at the Withrow Farmer's Market and those were wonderful. Haven't tried yet this year as I feel it's still early to expect good ones.
                    It is very rare to find good ones at the grocery store but I have done it. Also I think smaller produce shops sometimes get stuff cheap because it is closer to ripe and I guess the big stores can't turn it around quickly enough... ridiculous huh?
                    I find smelling my peaches (and apricots and tomatoes) to be key in the selection process (probably not a novel idea to you Nyleve!).

                    1. re: julesrules

                      Julesrules, I agree about the smelling of peaches to be helpful in selecting good peaches. But do you have any good tips about avoiding mealy peaches? here the smell is not as useful, and there is nothing as disappointing as a mealy peach!

                      1. re: moh

                        No... next time I go peach shopping I will pay more attention on how I decide whether to buy or not (usually not), and if I get good results I will report.

                        What do you mean by mealy - I mean I have an idea what people mean by that but I am never sure if my definition is matching theirs?

                        1. re: julesrules

                          What I mean by mealy - you know how sometimes you bite into a peach or nectarine and the texture is grainy on the tongue, the fruit is dry, there is very little fruit flavour, and instead of juiciness, the fruit falls apart with the texture of wet cardboard. I am sad just thinking about it...

                          1. re: moh

                            Exactly. I don't know why, but I seem to have more luck if I buy slightly unripe peaches and then gauge them every half day or so. Nectarines seem more reliable, I find.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Hang on, MMRuth, you mean to say there is a time period when the peach is not mealy and I might be able to enjoy them? It's funny, I never thought about it, I just a assumed a mealy stone fruit was mealy from the get go! I tend to leave my fruit until I think it is really ripe, and then try it. But if what you are saying is true... Newsflash!! This would help me a lot!

                              Here is another question you might be able to advise me on. When the fruit is mealy, does it salvage the fruit to cook with it? I have also never tried this, I just bite into the mealy fruit and eat as much as I can tolerate, with sadness. But if cooking it into pie or something would salvage the fruit, I guess I should try not to waste the fruit.

                              And this is why I love Chowhound - makes me reconsider my food all the time...

                              1. re: moh

                                Hmm - I've always assumed that a mealy peach is one that is too ripe, not bad from the "git go" so to speak. But I don't know that for a fact, and I guess it's hard to test. If it's mealy, I wouldn't cook with it though. On the other hand, I think that one can, say, bake peaches that aren't quite at their ripe prime, and have a great result. I made a peach tart a couple of weeks ago with peaches that I thought weren't quite ripe, and the tart was great.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Thank you for the reply! You saved me a mealy peach pie. I'll definitely try it the other way around. I'm starting to see some semi-local peaches now...

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    I don't think that mealiness in a peach has too much to do with the state of ripeness - at least in my experience, a peach is either mealy or it's not. Ugh - biting into a mealy peach is just awful too...

                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                      I guess the tricky bit is, I don't bite into a peach unless I think it's ripe, so I can 't tell whether it would have been mealy before it ripened or not. But yes, it is awful!

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        And I just had the most glorious dripping peach for dessert. Bought it (Grace's Market, NYC) on Saturday - still had a little green where the stem was removed, but I thought it had promise -and it did!

                                      2. re: flourgirl

                                        I agree. Mealiness results from a disruption in the growing process: too little/too much rain or heat. An over-ripe peach isn't mealy, it's bruised and way soft. If you sniff a peach and get a huge hit of peachiness (not a faint hit), you've got a winner. I keep a bowl of peaches on the kitchen counter in the summer, and the aroma tempts passersby to pause and devour. Impossible to resist.

                                    2. re: moh

                                      With mealy peaches or any fruit with little flavor I make microwave crisps. Slice fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar ... brown sugar is good ... ginger is a nice addition. Nuke for a minute. Top with oatmeal mixed with brown sugar and butter. Nuke another 30 seconds.

                                      Also you could slice and mascerate with lemon and sugar then mix into oatmeal or yogurt.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        Rworange, this is a really silly question, but for the microwave crisps, is it raw oatmeal you sprinkle on? Thanks!

                                        1. re: moh

                                          Yeah, I mix in the sugar before putting it on top. It doesn't come out crispy like in an oven, but it is still good. I fool myself into thinking the oatmeal makes it healthy. I guess you could throw some granola on top too. I'm not much of a granola buyer though.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            I bought great peaches at Russo's in Watertown MA a few weeks ago. I thought I let them go to long but when I had a slice it was transcendent. That batch were from California.
                                            A new batch came in from South Carolina and I thought "hey, a least these are east coast, I'll get them" even though the Californias were still there.

                                            This morning I cut one open... disgusting, mealy, insipid. So sad.

                                            So much for my pie making this weekend.

                              2. re: moh

                                Sometimes I forget that everyone doesn't smell their produce and I find myself the focus of unwanted stares in the supermarket as I try to pick a good melon. But with cantaloupes, for sure, it's the only way. As for peaches, I just plain don't buy out of season imported peaches. Ever. This is not a save-the-earth decision - I've just had too many duds. Mealiness is definitely one of the big problems. When I buy farmers market peaches, the odd basket may turn up mealy toward the end of the season. I think it's when they try to stretch the season a bit too long. Supermarket peaches are more tricky - as I said, I think it's the refrigeration stopping the ripening process. Does the same thing to tomatoes.

                                To get good peaches, I buy from the grower at the local farmers market. There is usually just one, occasionally two or three varieties available any given week. I buy the ones that are at their peak of the season. When I get them, they usually need a couple of days before they're perfectly ripe so smell isn't a good way to choose in that case.

                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                    I agree, forget out-of-season imports. But I have had good Foodland Ontario peaches from the grocery store at the height of the season. Many of them are not good and there's no guarantee of finding good ones but those big cheap baskets can be tempting so I take a look. I can tell to some degree if they're going to ripen nicely or not, I don't know if it's entirely by smell or other cues. I think I am looking for some degree of softness and some fruity smell. If they are totally hard and have no odour I figure there is no hope, but a little riper and a nice smell, I put them on the counter, then refridgerate when they are ripe if I can't use them all right away.

                                    1. re: julesrules

                                      Foodland Ontario...now you're making me homesick...I have never had a peach to compare with SW Ont peak-season peaches, anywhere.

                                1. re: julesrules

                                  I've heard that before about small markets getting riper fruit cheaper -- I'm told that's one reason why produce is cheaper in Chinatown or Mexican markets: they buy the cheaper fruit that may be less cosmetically pristine but is ripe and ready to eat.

                                  It's not only that big stores don't turn the fruit around fast enough, it's that their customers have different shopping patterns: most people who shop at supermarkets are buying produce they expect to last at home for several days or even a week, while most people who shop at ethnic markets are buying food they expect to eat within a day.

                                    1. re: jlafler

                                      Well, when I said "I'm told" I meant I was told by you! Anyway, there's also the third point they made: immigrants cook more, and cook more large family meals, so they buy more fresh produce, which means the stores in their neighborhoods do high volume as well as fast turnaround. That's compared to "American" poor people who eat a lot of fast food and junk/convenience food. There aren't a lot of stores selling fresh food in their neighborhoods, but when I visit neighborhoods with a large proportion of immigrants and see markets selling fresh foods everywhere, sometimes I wonder which came first: does no one buy fresh produce because stores don't sell it, or do the stores not sell fresh produce because no one buys it?

                              3. Well, this all makes me feel smug and self-satisfied. I bought some delicious supermarket peaches from FoodCo for 49 cents per pound ... I KNOW (said in the incredulous tone of Craig Ferguson).

                                This week they had white and yellow nectarines ... but they didn't match those peaches.

                                Safeway in August has some peaches in August ... Red something or another that are pretty good. They had a sale at 99 cents a pound one year and .I made a lot of brandied peaches out of those.

                                These days I'm wary about good-tasting supermarket fruit ... all that genetic engineering ... for all I know there are aardvark genes in there ... hmmm ... maybe pig genes ... pig is tasty.

                                I usually stick to farmers markets ... but even then usually stick with vendors that give samples.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: rworange

                                  Do you have a good recipe for brandied peaches?

                                  1. re: anzu

                                    Mine are pretty plain. I slice peaches into a mason jar. add a few tablespoons of sugar, cover to the top with brandy, put lid on and leave in the fridge until December. The first two weeks I turn the jars every few days until the sugar is absorbed.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      I'm in Baltimore, and bought huge luscious peaches yesterday from a local farm stand that grows their own. Do you leave the skin on when you brandy them?

                                      1. re: crosby_p

                                        Sometimes ... unless they are too thick or fuzzy. You might try a jar each way to see which you prefer.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          I took the skin off...they are in a huge jar in the fridge and taste great rworange...one other question. It still tastes really brandy-ish...will that calm down some? (don't get me wrong...they are still delish!)

                                      2. re: rworange

                                        Thank you! Since they are in the fridge and brandy may or may not be a sterilizer, do you need to sterilize the jars?

                                        Wow. If you can leave things alone till December, you have better will power than I do. :) I currently have a few jars of pickles I made and I'm supposed to wait 8 weeks for them. I'm on week 1 and I keep staring at them wistfully!

                                        1. re: anzu

                                          I just make sure they are clean and not steralized. However, if it makes you feel better, steralize them.to be safe. I'm more likely to do brandied cherries the same way, but every now and then when a good bargain with peaches comes up, I'll put some of those away.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Wow. I was just staring at the brandy wondering what to do with "all that brandy". :) Thanks. I have to wait for a few jars to free up, but if they do, I might have to try this.

                                            1. re: anzu

                                              Have a glass or two while contemplating what to do. One thing that is really good is filling a jar with blackberries and brandy. All that is left of the blackberries is the seeds, but it makes the loveliest blackberry brandy.

                                  2. Look at the little label on the fruit (the one with the UPC code) if buying in a big market-- it will (or should) tell you where it's from. If it's nearby, buy, if it's not, bye-bye.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: alias wade

                                      I am not sure about this theory. I think some regions grow better peaches than others from having eaten even really good peaches from different regions I think just the weather and soil in certain areas tend to produce better year after year and if I lived in one of those regions I think I would buy from elsewhere. I don't really want to name regions because that will start a big chow fight, but I am really picky about the area around my region and which farmers at the market come from which region as to where I buy, of course this year I went and picked my own and that was very successful as you can just pick the best.

                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                        You're right in that the variables effect the size and flavor of a crop from year to year, but it really doesn't have as much to do with area as it has to do with tree. We had several apricot trees when I was growing up, and one of them -- a huge tree that was probably the grandparent of them all -- always had the largest and sweetest fruit, but some years it was knock-your-socks-off great and some years it was ho-hum-you-had-better-fruit-last-year. Who knows what the variables are? Two days more rain? Two cups less fertilizer? It's all luck of the draw, but no one I know can figure out how to stack the deck "just right". '-)

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          Too many warm days, too few warm days, too few cold days, too few rainy days at some points and too many rainy days at others. For example, we had a cold, dry spring in Northern California, which made for a great cherry crop. Some years when we have a wet spring, the cherry season almost disappears. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to have done much for the apricot crop -- I think the apricots are better when we have a warm spring.

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Ok so I will now have to use examples, sorry people this may offend, but why then are SC peaches just awful, while NC and Georgia in a good year can have excellent peaches?

                                            In the DC area, I only get peaches from specific areas in WV and VA as they are much better than those from other areas. Is it perhaps that the farmers know how much fertilizer, etc? But they really do taste different.

                                            1. re: ktmoomau

                                              In my experience all sorts of things impact on fruit flavor, size, all sorts of things. Soil conditions, weather, temperatures when fruit is forming, temperatires when fruit is ripening. Me? I'm just deeply grateful on those extremely rare occasions when I come home with even one piece of fruit that tastes great. <sigh> The world didn't used to be like this. :-(

                                              1. re: ktmoomau

                                                Most years I'd disagree with you and tell you that living in SC, one can fall assets over tea kettle into bushels of good peaches down here. Go to a farmer's market, a roadside stand, or even the supermaket--it's easy. Two years ago, the Windblo variety were the best peaches I've ever had. Period.

                                                This year, I don't know, our peaches have tended to be either flavorless or sour. The best I've had this year by far were the ones we picked off my in-laws' tree in their backyard in May. The Georgia and NC peaches I've tried this year haven't been a whole lot better than the SC ones.

                                                Last year, we had a late freeze that killed off a lot of the local peach crop. I wonder if this year the farmers haven't culled as much of their crop so they can produce more peaches and try to recoup their losses from last year. Maybe it's just mysterious variables in the weather, who knows? It's disappointing though that peach season is drawing to a close, and I haven't had a "close-my-eyes" good peach since May. Here's hoping we have a good apple season.

                                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                                  Don't know where you're getting your SC peaches, but the ones I've had have been spectacular this year. After getting zero last year.

                                                  Of course, I get mine from my uncles who grow peaches on my grandfather's land where the peach farm started back in the 40's, so...I'm special. In fact, i have some on my desk right now that are getting a little too ripe... you can only eat so many peaches. Wish I could teleport one to you.

                                          2. You question contains your answer: fresh food is not -- cannot -- be an industrial product. Industrial products are standardized for ease of distribution (shipping, handling, storing) and not for irrelevancies like taste. As other posters have noted, food that goes through mass distribution channels has to be picked at less than optimum rightness and handled in ways that affect the flavor in order to arrive at your store in a condition that's at least cosmetically saleable.

                                            The only way to get a "real" peach is to get one grown and distributed locally (not necessarily a farmers market, but that's your best bet). The great thing about buying from a farmers market is that you can actually sample the fruit before you buy it, too!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              Second what Ruth said, especially the part about sampling. Many of our farmer's-marketers here in SoCal have started growing and selling new high-sugar, low-acid peaches that are large and gorgeous, but whose flavor is decidedly inferior. They're yellow peaches for the folks who prefer white ones; not being one of those, I sample everyone's until I find that nice rich tang.

                                              I have no specific recommendations for anyone living elsewhere; this part of the world, I've discovered, is stone-fruit heaven, and I'm just glad to live in it!

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                I actually ask the farmer which (if any) of the fruits (I'm actually a nectarine gal, not a peach person) are "high acid." It doesn't hurt at all for them to know that some people are actively seeking out high-acid varietals instead of the super-sweet, bland, low-acid varieties. My favorite stone-fruit grower has actually steered me to some high(er) acid white nectarine varieties that are actually better than some low-acid yellow nectarines, and that I would have bypassed without even sampling if they hadn't pushed them at me.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  At our local farmer's market there's a farmer who's been selling about 8 different varieties of peaches and nectarines. They have someone out in front offering tastes, and since there are so many, they try to narrow it down for you by asking for your sweet/tart preference.

                                                  I've always preferred nectarines..... must be genetic. Alas, my favorite nectarine variety seems to be done for the summer. At least, he hasn't had any the last couple of weeks....

                                            2. My best advice is to drive out to the boonies. I drove deep into Solano County last weekend and got a flat of divine peaches for five bucks. Made peach jam, peach ice cream, and this weekend will make peach pie. Look for decrepit signs on country roads. You can't go wrong.

                                              1. I live in Jersey and buy marvelous peaches from local farms. Every once in a while I get a dud batch, but it's rare. It's funny, because I was just saying that I need to go get some more peaches...

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                  Ditto (almost - I live in NYC, work in NJ). Picked up a bunch of small, tree-ripened, excellent peaches ($5 for a small basket full) at a local farmstand. Locally grown Jersey tomatoes, corn, and blueberries are also very good and easy to find.

                                                  Must say, though, the most amazing peach I've ever had was at the Pike Place Market in Seatlle - the guy there called them "Omigod! Peaches", and the description was accurate. He told me he got them from a single local farmer who had somehow achieved Peachnirvana.

                                                  1. re: Striver

                                                    They really, really are "Holy Crap" and "OMG" peaches - because that's what you say when you eat them!
                                                    Sosio's produce in Pike Place sells them. (so lucky to work up the street!)

                                                    In central coast california, Buttonwood farms in Santa Ynez is a winery and peach farm, and thier peaches and plums are quite good. (sadly I've never had a really great wine from there)

                                                    1. re: Jeters

                                                      Sosio's was it! We discovered them the first day of our visit, and stopped there the next two mornings to get our daily peach fix (we were staying across the street from the market, so this was no problem). Took a bag full with us on our next leg (roadtripping down the Oregon coast). Liked it so much, we even took a picture of the place (the peaches are in the middle)!

                                                       
                                                2. one of the farmers at my market sets aside what he calls "tourist peaches." They're the ones that are perfectly ripe and soft right at that moment. He saves them for the tourists that want a peach right now. Since I have dreadful luck with getting even tree-ripened fruit to soften up the way I like it, I just get a few of the tourist ones for instant gratification whenever he has them.

                                                    1. if you buy organic peaches, they were picked ripe and might be better. beware, organic peaches don't have their peach fuzz shaved like conventional peaches, so they can be a bit fuzzier. if you want ripe, cheap peaches, go to your local open-air asian produce market. my local hmong market has huge peaches right now which are sweet, juicy, beautiful, fantastic! those ladies know they can't get away with selling cardboard, so they get the best.

                                                      1. The only supermarket peaches that I find edible are the donut peaches (also called saturn peaches). While they are not quite as good as a perfect farmers' market peach, they are tasty with a good consistency (i.e. they are reliably NOT mushy or mealy). I'm based in Southern California, so don't know if they are available everywhere, but pick some up if you come across them. Here's an article with more information:

                                                        http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/house_...

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                          I missed your post when I wrote about these. The ones I bought were absolute peak perfection. Restored my faith in peaches and global distribution!

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            I agree! I've been buying them for the past few years, and they really are the only reliably good-quality stone fruit you can get commercially, IMHO.

                                                        2. I bought the most delicious, sweet, juicy peaches today at my farmers' market. They were from Eckert's, which is in Belleville, IL (near St. Louis).

                                                          1. Alas, memories of peaches past. Until a couple of years ago, I lived very near a family-owned 60-acre peach orchard where I (and anbody else) could go pick pick peaches straight off the trees. Even so, the peaches weren't always great. A lot depended on the weather. If it was a rainy year, the peaches tasted watery. And even in a great year, not every peach was great. I haven't moved. But the peach orchard has given way to suburbanization. The peach family has moved further out in the country where they still raise peaches. It's too far away for me to go. I cannot imagine why they wanted to sell their 60-acre orchard, unless it had something to do with the $68 million they got from the developers.

                                                            1. my mom bought 2 huge beautiful white peaches (my favorite kinds) from the korean store...and I knew they wouldn't be good when I smelled them. I smelled absolutely nothing ): and yeah they were so bland. I had to dip them in some local honey (which killed the flavor even more, but added sweetness) to make them taste better.

                                                              Does anyone do the smell test? Does it work out for them? I've smelled excellent peaches, only to buy them and have them taste pretty cruddy

                                                              1. I don't know -- I live in Texas and the white peaches are just heavenly this time of year. Where are yours coming from?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: RGC1982

                                                                  We are getting excellent peaches this year in Texas. I've bought Tx and Georgia both and the Texas were so much better. I assume it had a little something to do with the GA being shipped so much farther, but it could have been our weather. I can't resist the peaches when I see them at Central Market.

                                                                2. Oh, I feel so spoiled. I live near Chilton County, Alabama, which has some of the most amazing peaches. I just made cobbler last night to get rid of some!!! I buy an entire basket almost every weekend and then distribute them out to family and friends. I think you have to live near where great peaches are grown to get a great peach.

                                                                  The early peaches are "cling" peaches, which cling to the pit. Later peaches are free stone and come off the pit easily.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Greta

                                                                    Wow...I'm from Maplesville in Chilton County and you are so right about the peaches. The best in the world. I live in Georgia now and even though it's the known for its peaches, the best I've ever had were from that area in Alabama.

                                                                  2. two major pros to living in North Carolina: the summertime peaches and tomatoes. i've been eating them one large paper-bag ripened lb. at a time.
                                                                    my latest "discovery" peeled yellow peaches with farmer's heavy cream.

                                                                    1. Peaches... they used to be my favorite fruit. They still could, I am just not sure that they qualify anymore, considering that I can't remember the last time I really enjoyed a fresh, juicy one. The supermarkets I've been to have had nothing but duds for years. Occasionally, I will eat one from an organic grocer that tastes ok. A few years ago, I had 2 pretty good ones that a friend gave me from her monthly Harry&David shipment. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to really check out the farmers' markets yet this season. That would be the first place I would check if I really wanted one.

                                                                      1. I'm delighted with my local supermarket chain on this matter. We get Pence peaches from eastern Washington, and they're picked ripe and put directly into the box from the tree. They are GOOD.

                                                                        Now if only someone could manage this with apricots! I've only had good apricots once in my life.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Vetter

                                                                          I bought a basket of apricots last weekend at the farmers market and it was unbelievably good. They were a tad underripe when I got them, but after 3 days on the counter they were irresistible. I'm getting another one tomorrow morning for sure. This is my favourite fruit.

                                                                        2. Spare a thought for those of us in England. A good peach is almost impossible to come by as they're pretty much all imported. *sigh*

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                            As I sit here and devour a delicious Jersey peach I just bought at the Farmer's Market, with peach juice dribbling down my chin, I am, indeed, thinking of you. (sorry...)

                                                                          2. If you should be lucky enough to run upon a smallish strange, weird looking flat peach, sometimes called a "flat peach," a "donut peach," and other strange names, buy all you can and run! I found some this year (unfortunately only once) and they are the absolute most delicious peaches I have had in the last fifty years! White flesh, extremely easy to peel, and sooooo juicy! They are an heirloom Chinese peach that is making a California come-back. YAY!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              They grow those in France and Italy as well - saw some today as it happens in a local store here in London.

                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                One of the farmers at our greenmarket (nyc) grew those last year and they were indeed lovely. They haven't had them (yet) this year. I'm keeping my eyes open for them. In the meanwhile, I've been getting my peaches from a different farmer (same greenmarket) and they've been quite good. I believe these are free-stone peaches (that are grown in NJ).

                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                  I live in a suburb of Philly. Peaches from the supermarkets are very chancy, but the ones from the farm stands are much more reliable. Thye stands tend to get their peaches from either 'Jersey (NJ) or from Lancaster Country. I am typing this with one hand because I am munching/slobbering/inhaling one of those insane donut peaches. Got a bunch yesterday from the farm stand (these peaches are from Lancaster Country), and they will be gone by tomorrow. Holy crap. Like little bites of sugar. Juice running down my chin. Sighs of ecstasy.

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    Well, I take it all back about how great the heirloom Chinese "doughnut peaches" are. I finally found some again at Kroger's last week. Nearly five bucks a pound! Bought four because they were so fabulous the first time. These were hard, never ripened on a window sill, and a major major disappointment. I guess the only reliable peaches are canned or frozen. <sigh> I cannot believe I paid four dollars and eighty something a pound for those suckers!

                                                                                  2. My solution is not for everyone, but if you can, plant a tree. Prune it to be small if you don't have much space. Sacrifice some of that lawn, and enjoy your own source of sweetness. This was a bumper year for all our stone fruits (Southern California coast), and the peaches are peaking right now. I don't want to make anyone feel bad, but, well, I'll just be quiet now.

                                                                                     
                                                                                    1. This is a quest worth taking. don't give up. I don't know which is more frustrating the yearly peach quest or the yearly strawberry quest. The only way I've gotten great peaches is to go pick them ourselves. Unfortunately, this is not a week to week option. However, a good local source at the farmers market also works well.

                                                                                      1. Apparently taste and texture are not the only things that suffer with commercial peaches: they are the number one pesticide laden food, according to this report from an organic research group:
                                                                                        http://www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php

                                                                                        1. I've given up on grocery store peaches and now buy a ton each week from the farmers market. I've had wonderful ones so far this year.

                                                                                          http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/2...

                                                                                          1. jeez, I feel guilty to admit that we get superb peaches of many kinds here in Southern Oregon. The fare for this week's ripe ones are redhavens and glohavens, straight off the trees at our local u-pick place, Sugar Plum Acres between Talent and Phoenix. Many other orchards abound. There ARE some advantages to living in the country. :)
                                                                                            Is there anything more glorious than a perfect peach?

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                              Is there anything more glorious than a perfect peach?

                                                                                              No! :-D

                                                                                            2. After all the usual investigative tests you perform at the market, aroma is the key determinent. Smell the peach. If it doesn't smell like a peach, it is a reject. It will not develope at home, it will just get OLD and deteriorate. If it doesn't smell like a peach, don't waste our time and/or money.

                                                                                              1. Palisade peaches are in the grocery stores in Denver now and they are terrific.

                                                                                                Four years ago we planted a miniature peach tree in our rear courtyard. Year two we had 3 beautiful, big, juicy peaches. Year three we had so many peaches that we had to de-peach the tree to keep it from falling over. This spring we sold the Denver house but I'm told by the new owner that the peaches are big, beautiful and juicy again this year. He didn't offer to share.
                                                                                                Our house in Mexico is built in an old peach orchard - but they aren't the same. Small and hard the peach trees bloom at Christmas time and the fruit is ready in April and May. OK for pies, but too crunchy for me to eat raw.

                                                                                                1. I have, for the most part, given up on yellow (regular) peaches. I only buy the white flesh ones now.

                                                                                                  1. i started this post and will now finish it. i have bought a ton of peaches this season. not one really good one. a handful of pretty good ones. some fair/mediocre. most duds.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: MarkG

                                                                                                      Where did you buy them? What advice from this thread did you follow? Any of it?

                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                        here in minneapolis minnesota we are stuck with NON locally grown out of state imports-- mostly calif peaches. some colorado. i wish i had access to local growers but the nearest peach growing areas are colorado and michigan