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peachy peaches?

  • c

I haven't had much success in finding good peaches. Tried farmers markets, other markets, farm stands, Russo's. Usually I end up with a peach that is somewhat juicy and somewhat sweet. One farm stand peach was super juicy, but only tasted vaguely of peach. And then there are the underripe ones, where you have to wait a week or so to be disappointed. So far, the best peaches I've had were from Whole Foods, which doesn't feel satisfying.

Can anyone point me to an excellent peach?

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  1. The sweet local ones are just starting to come in. Try the local farmer's markets again. The early ones are always a bit disappointing. The really good ones should be around for the next 3 weeks.

    I just ate some great farmer's market ones.

    1 Reply
    1. re: StriperGuy

      Me too - Kimball's had great peaches at Newton on Tuesday...

    2. First week of September is a good time for MA peaches.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Luther

        kimball's at the farmer's market had great local peaches and nectarines - they do need to be put in a brown bag and ripened for a few days - they were lovely

      2. I've had excellent results with CA peaches from Costco, very large and sweet.

        1. Sorry, I would have answered this earlier but I was too busy standing over the sink wolfing down two dead-perfect peaches -- one yellow, one white -- that I bought from Dick's at the Brookline Famers Market this afternoon, and it took a while to wash my hands and face and change my shirt afterwards.

          And at a buck-sixty a pound, couldn't be more popularly priced.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

            Those have been good. I like the white ones. The other good ones have been the box set sold at Trader Joe's. The latest bunch is from Georgia and are very good.

            Trader Joe's
            1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

            1. re: lergnom

              Bought the peaches at Trader Joes Sept. 5th on your rec and they were excellent.Thanks

              Trader Joe's
              1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

            2. re: Jenny Ondioline

              Sounds like peach heaven. The only way it would be better is to be at the beach, where you can jump in the water to wash up.

              I'll have to look for Dick's. The ones I got from Kimball were $3 a pound.

            3. Well, every season is a bit different. The flavors are best when things are on the dryish side: smaller fruit, lots of sun, more intense flavor. When things are wet, fruit get bigger (great for farmers who sell by weight) but the flavor is often more diluted.

              So, this July was good for things. So far, the tropical wetness of August is not necessarily great, though for fruit that is fully formed and ripening, it may have less impact.

              1. I have been buying peaches at the farmers market - mainly City Hall Plaza and Copley- and they are fantastic but very ripe. They do not last long before they get moldy. In one case, less than 24 hours. And those were stored in the fridge. I had to throw out about 4 or 5 freshly picked peaches that were covered with mold in a very short amount of time. So I am going to buy less or use them up right away. They are VERY tasty. I have not tried the Whole Foods peaches since the farmers started bringing them in, but they have had good ones in the past.

                City Hall Cafe
                695 Main St, Fitchburg, MA 01420

                1. I bought some great peaches at Ingaldsby Farm in Boxford.

                  1. I had really good Saturn peaches from Keown orchards at the Copley farmers market on Tuesday. Not quite at perfect sweetness but close.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: babka eater

                      I bought some on Tuesday and they were perfect tonight. I have a great time photographing those little beauties each year. I so look forward to the season.

                      We did get some of the ones at Trader Joes from Pennsylvania over the past two weeks and they have also been great.


                      Trader Joe's
                      1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                    2. The peaches from Nicewicz have been amazing, although you do have to let them ripen for a few days. They are at the Davis, Union, and Belmont markets.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: greenzebra

                        They're at Natick, too. We got a bushel of seconds from them last week for $15. Fabulous.

                      2. Thanks for all the replies -- I guess my peach timing was off! I raced over to the Belmont farmers market to grab some peaches from Kimball. Of course, impatient me just had to try one immediately -- it was pretty good, and it wasn't even fully ripe yet! So thanks for the suggestions to give the farmers market another try.

                        After the market, I just had to stop at Silk Road. Ordered the special short ribs -- so tender and yummy!

                        Now if only a pint of Ranc's rhubarb ice cream would fall out of the sky and land in my freezer, I would have hit the Belmont triple crown.....

                        22 Replies
                        1. re: czarp

                          Rhubarb ice cream topped with sliced peaches...

                          1. re: czarp

                            Let me just say that at any given farmer's market, from stand to stand the peaches vary WILDY.

                            If you are really hard core (I don't do this myself) by one from each first, sink your teeth in and then go back and by more from the place that had the best...

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Let me tell you, the peach crop generally from the farmers' markets this year has been outstanding. Great flavor out of hand, and the batch of peach shrub I put up has turned out beautifully fragrant and with strong peachy taste. Nice times this season in the Boston area for peaches. Hint: look for the small ripe ones for putting up and grab some Saturns for gobbling down over the kitchen sink.

                              1. re: marais

                                Please consider this a formal request for your peach shrub recipe!

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  With pleasure sir! I subscribe to the Neyah White (from SF) school of cold shrub making. For the shrub base I dissolve 1 cup of demarara sugar into 1 cup of cider vinegar and 1 cup of rice wine vinegar...just by stirring, no heat necessary. For the peach shrub I chunk as much fresh ripe washed skin-on peach as I can into a clean 3/4 liter jar. Fill with shrub base, seal and leave on the counter for a week, agitating once or twice daily.

                                  Then it's time to decant: pour into large mesh strainer over a bowl, mash through strainer. Then strain again through a finer mesh strainer, and again through cheesecloth, squeezing all the shrub out. Place back in re-cleaned 3/4 liter jar and keep in fridge for up to a month.

                                  I've found that our Massachusetts peach shrub goes uncommonly well in drinks with mezcal and with all sorts of rum (pot-still, spiced and overproof), but surprisingly to me, not so much with bourbon. (Fresh peach and bourbon, though, is a divinely inspired combo.) And you may have some shrub base left over, which can be used thusly: pour 1 oz pot-still rum (such as Berkshire's Ragged Mountain Rum), .5 oz shrub base and a dash of bitters over ice in a highball, top with seltzer, and refresh yourself on a warm Boston day.

                                  1. re: marais

                                    Hmmmm, wow.

                                    All that vinegar, again wow.

                                    Thank you for the recipe.

                                    Will have to fire up a batch and report back. I am way into this type of thing. My recipe for home made cocktail cherries is elsewhere on chowhound.

                                    Not a fan of that Berkshire Rum product. Feel it is thin and over priced. And I am a serious rum fan.

                                    I'd rather go Pyrat, or Mount Gay or Appleton or Brugal Anejo for something like that. Heck at that price point you could use one of the Barbancourt products, a WAY better rum for the money.

                                    I recently got some El Dorado 15 year that is insane but that's not for cocktails.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Thanks for the props...White's mode of shrub making is dead easy and produces a fresher (and less cooked-tasting) product. I veer from this when making shrub with cranberries and blueberries, ya gotta get the berries to pop with heat to get the juice.

                                      I dunno, the Berkshire product is okay for mixing, though I also go for smoky Mount Gay and hogo-ish Brugal AƱejo depending on the mix. After all the Berkshire is local, and I like that. I've read tasting notes from samples of old Medford rum and wonder why no one is attempting a comeback!

                                      We should probably continue the rum discussion in the Spirits forum, but I'm glad you brought up rum. That spirit is about as fundamentally Boston as it gets.

                                      1. re: marais

                                        FYI, Berkshire Mountain's product is not the only local choice anymore. There are four other local(-ish) rum makers I know of:

                                        Newport Distilling (Newport RI, Thomas Tew rum)
                                        Ryan & Wood Distilleries (Gloucester MA, Folly Cove rum)
                                        Triple-8 (Nantucket, MA, Hurricane rum)
                                        Bully Boy (Boston, MA. Rum not yet released)

                                        Thomas Tew is a fairly rich rum which the company says they tried to make in the classic New England style. I thoroughly enjoyed my bottle, while it lasted. But I'm not sure how it actually compares to the old Medford stuff, having not had the pleasure of trying that.

                                        Folly Cove seems a bit thin; I think it could use more time in the cask, and I doubt it emulates the Medford stuff. I'll probably make some kind of Punch with the remainder of my bottle.

                                        I've not yet tried Triple-8's product.

                                        Bully Boy is still aging its rum and it will be very interesting to see what kind of product it turns out to be, especially since it's the closest, physically, to Medford.

                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                          I'll try tracking those other local rums down at a watering hole before committing to a bottle. I honestly found the Berkshire product a complete disappointment and it retails around $35 a bottle. I'd rather use Cruzan or Brugal (their regular bottlings) at 1/4 the price.

                                          I know it's apples to oranges and starting your own micro is WAY tough. But at $35 a bottle you better be delivering a product that tastes like SOMETHING.

                                          If a person is starting a micro distillery and turning out rum, they ought to at least check out the competition.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Probably a good choice to try them out first. I've wasted a lot of money over the years by not making enough of an effort to try before buying... However, I do have to say that I was fooled by the Berkshire Mountain rum thanks to an amazing cocktail I had with it at Eastern Standard. Turns out that what I really enjoyed was the result of the mixing prowess of Jackson Cannon and had little to do with the input product.

                                            Eastern Standard
                                            528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              re: Brugal, Martignetti's used to carry the blanco for ~$10.99, then it went away, now back for $17 (albeit with the netting around the bottle?)....

                                              Anyone know what the difference is?

                                              1. re: okra

                                                Yah not sure why Brugal has gone through the roof lately. You used to get the Anejo for $14.

                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          I got some Pyrat months ago to use for marinating fruit & making desserts (which I ended up not making) for Easter. Got it at a good sale price at Marty's, too. Great stuff!!

                                          1. re: threedogs

                                            Yah I scooped that Pyrat special as well.

                                        3. re: marais

                                          Marais . . . does this schrub also go well in soda water, etc . . . just like a cooked schrub? or is it just for cocktail mixing? i just mixed some up a few minutes ago (according to your recipe). i have been wanting to make some, but it seems so strange to boil the heck out of it. i used white peaches. they are a summertime delicacy to me.

                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                      Totally agree with this - some farms are way better than others. I agree with the recommendation for Nicewicz Orchards - always high quality - and for Dick's Market Garden. I also like Lanni Orchards, who show up at several markets. Keown's regular peaches (white and yellow) have been good but not great, but their saturn peaches are excellent. I've been a little underwhelmed with Kimball in general, and their prices are on the high side.

                                      But the very BEST peaches and nectarines I've had around here come from E.L. Silva farms - I used to see them at the Milton market on thursdays, and this season they started coming to the Harvard University market (outside the Science Center). In addition to great peaches they have these fantastic nectarines for a few weeks late every summer - they're kind of bumpy and ugly-looking, but they are absolutely delicious - sweet but also very intensely-flavored. They also have regular nectarines throughout the season which are very good but it's the fugly ones that are worth looking out for.

                                      1. re: MichaelB

                                        Yes, I second the rec for Silva Farms. I was just going to post. They are located in Dighton. I bought peaches and nectarines at the Harvard Market this past Tuesday, and they were terrific. Really nice folks. The tomatoes are first rate, too, especially the cherry tomatoes.

                                        1. re: bear

                                          I bought some peaches and nectarines from them today, I thought the nectarines were so-so. They seemed like regular ones, not ugly-looking, bumpy ones. I've tried three of their peaches so far. Two were good and one was great: juicy, perfumy, with layers of flavor.

                                          Their stand carried no sign. I had to ask what farm they were. With curious reluctance they said "Silva".

                                          1. re: FoodDabbler

                                            I also went today about 5:30. The peaches and nectarines were completely different from last week's. Much smaller and not ripe. I bought a few nectarines but they don't look promising. Must be a seasonal thing. Bummer. The corn and tomatoes, however, are excellent (just had them for dinner along with pollack from the Cape Ann Fresh Catch csa that we picked up at the market.)

                                            Those peaches last week were so good that I'll be looking for them next year. Sorry you missed them!

                                            Fresh Catch
                                            473 E Washington St North, Attleboro, MA

                                            1. re: bear

                                              They had smaller, harder peaches when I went at about 12:30, but also a few larger, riper ones. It was one of the large peaches that I thought was great. I also got some of the small tomatoes, and I agree that they were excellent -- sweet, and very flavorful. I've been eating them today like the fruit they are.

                                  2. The peaches are local and wonderful at Volante's farm. I have been sniffing peaches all season, and these are the first to pass that test. Juicy, peachy and just perfect!!

                                    1. Ihav eloved the peaches in the last week and a half from Stillman' Farm. ripe (after a day or two), juicy and peachy. Just had one a little while ago. Drippy.

                                      1. I scored some AMAZING itsy bitsy saturn (flat) peaches at govt center farmer's market today. Also some stunning husk cherries and huge fennel for $2 each.

                                        1. Can anyone recommend a good place to pick them? We tried Smolak Farms last year and were not at all pleased with the quality of the fruit.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            This answer will be in my Fresh & Local newspaper column next week but since the Chowhounds comments on peaches gave me my topic. I'm happy to share a preview.

                                            "There are a few orchards near Boston who have pick-your-own peach opportunities. Belkin Family Lookout Farm in Natick and Connors Farm in Danvers expect to have peaches for picking until mid-September. Brooksby Farm in Peabody will have pick your own peaches through the end of August. "

                                            Information Source: http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/map...

                                            I'm not a pick your own person so I'll have to ask the rest of the gang to comment on the quality and experience at these places. All the pick your own places are coded and when you click on the marker it tells you the details.


                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              We picked at Cider Hill Farm a few years ago and had some very good quality peaches.

                                              Cider Hill Farm
                                              45 Fern Ave, Amesbury, MA

                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                  Went to Cider Hill Farm today. After a rather long hike up to the peach orchard (not at all helped by the fact that it was a hot day and we had a 4 year old in tow), we discovered that things were quite picked over. Eventually, after a lot of searching, we managed to find enough somewhat-ripe peaches to fill our box but it was tough. If anyone is picking this weekend I might recommend going elsewhere. They have another peach orchard that's not open yet so I think Cider Hill will be a better choice in another week or two.

                                                  By the way, aside from the lack of ripe peaches the place is very nice. I'm planning to go back in the fall to pick apples; they have a lot of interesting varieties.

                                                  Cider Hill Farm
                                                  45 Fern Ave, Amesbury, MA

                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                    Don't forget to try Cider Hill's cider donuts. They made me understand what all the fuss is about!

                                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                      We went to Cider Hill yesterday (Friday, August 26). They must have opened up more peaches to picking, because we got plenty. They aren't quite ripe, but are tasty even hard. Hopefully they'll be super juicy too, once they ripen. Also sweet plums. Definitely a hike up though!

                                                      We also got a few Gravenstein apples (those were pretty picked already) and plenty of tasty Gingergolds.

                                                      Unfortunately the cider donuts aren't quite as good when they're cool (surprise!). The texture isn't as delicate, crisp, and fluffy. Still tasty, but definitely better to get them on higher turnover days.

                                                      1. re: quirkydeb

                                                        If the donut's make it home you can always micro them for like 10 seconds, or toast them and they are almost as good as new. I bought some peaches at honey pot to go with my donut's, I'm letting them soften before eating mine.

                                                        1. re: quirkydeb

                                                          Scratch the peaches from Cider Hill. Just not that juicy or flavorful, even after a week and a half of ripening. Still hard, still dry, and not especially sweet.

                                                          1. re: quirkydeb

                                                            and scratch the TrJ peaches; all bruised/rot quickly and not as sweet and Verrill farms'

                                                  2. Verrill farms- white and regular- have come from Bolton MA and they have been perfect this last week.If you schlep out there, make sure to get some of their red gazpacho and dark choco. walnut biscotti.

                                                    1. Got a few peaches -- some white, some yellow -- from Nicewicz at Davis Sqare last week. They were OK, but one was positively peculiar: the bouquet was almost like petroleum. I threw it out after one bite. Went back to Harvard Square yesterday and got peaches from Silva, Ward's Berries, and Lanni. The ones from Silva were the best, especially their large yellow ones, but still slightly short of perfection. (I'm spoilt. I had the most amazing peaches last year at the Union Sq. Greenmarket in New York -- especially one weekend in August when the peaches were so bursting with sweet juices that bees were buzzing in droves (packs? gaggles? clouds?) above the tables. I suspect I'll spend the rest of my life trying to repeat that experience.)

                                                      Eta: my failure to remember the correct collective noun for bees annoyed me, so I looked it up. It's swarm, of course. But I learned there are other, more interesting ones: drift, grist, and bike among others.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                        i love learning unusual word stuff, so thanks for sharing that. <a bike of bees. imagine.......>

                                                      2. I've been trying to see if I can eat my weight in peaches this year (getting close) and then best ones that I have had thus far have been the white peaches from Stillman's (I'm not sure if they grow them themselves or if they buy them in from a local orchard, I suspect the latter) and the donut peaches from Farmer Dave's (ditto). Both farms sell at a number of markets, but I picked them up in the last week at markets in Jamaica Plain and East Boston, respectively.

                                                        That said, it's just a flat-out good year for peaches. Nearly every one that I've has has been good, though certainly not all were spectacular.

                                                        1. Have to put in a plug for Carlson Orchards also. We were there last weekend for peach picking. It's always a favorite, too, for apples. Also a plus, it's never a zoo.

                                                          1. PYO at Shelburne Farm in Stow is now open. Some are ripe but about 75% of the trees don't have soft fruit yet. The fruit that is totally ripe on the tree is pleasantly juicy but not sweet.

                                                            1. I've had some lovely peaches and nectarines from Nicewicz farms from various markets. They also had honeycrisp apples at Davis yesterday (hooray!).

                                                              1. I went to the Westward Orchards in Harvard, MA this past weekend. They are not "pick-your-own" but sell the peaches they grow in the farm store. I got a bag of white peaches for $11, which was about $2 a pound. They were definitely the worst peaches I ever had. They were mushy and brownish inside. They were even worse than peaches at the supermarkets. How can orchards' peaches be bad?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Gigihsu

                                                                  It's getting late in the local season.

                                                                  1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                    There were plenty of peaches at the Copley Farmers' Market yesterday.

                                                                    I always thought that orchards were too proud to sell sub-par "our-own" fruits in their farm stores. I was wrong.

                                                                    1. re: Gigihsu

                                                                      You may still see peaches in quantity, but the quality won't be (with occasional exceptions) the same as that of the peaches of August. You've disovered this yourself. Why farms sell them is unclear, but it may be that they have the crop and don't know what to do with it. If it's just a question of sweetness and hardness, the peaches can still be used for pie,etc., with added sugar. If texture is a problem, I don't know if cooking improves it. I have not tried.

                                                                2. I went peach picking at Shelburne Farms in Stow this past weekend, and I think the peaches should still be good for at least another week.

                                                                  Pick your own was $19 per box, which fit about 20 peaches (not including the ones I ate while picking). Picking was decent, although lots of peaches were on the small or hard side. The guy working there advised us to go over the hill to the far side of the orchard, and we did better there - I got some really nice peaches, definitely the best of the summer. The ones I picked were all yellow. They had a few white peach trees too, but I tasted them and they were flavorless and mealy.

                                                                  If you don't want to pick your own, they are selling them too

                                                                  We also ate peach ice cream, which I think was from Richardson's, and it wasn't nearly peachy enough. Not really worth it.

                                                                  Dave MP

                                                                  Shelburne Farm
                                                                  106 W Acton Road, Stow, MA 01775