Make the most of peach season in the South with recipes, events and tips on perfect preparation.
Last year, the state of North Carolina produced 4,380 tons of peaches, South Carolina calls the peach it’s state fruit, and Georgia is known as the Peach State. Peach season signals summer in the South, with orchards, roadside stands and farmers markets selling the golden fruit through August. Maybe you’ve been waiting to make that peach cobbler, ice cream or just slice into the juicy fruit. Well, now is the time. This year’s season is expected to be outstanding due to winter’s extended chill and current hot summertime temperatures — resulting in some of the sweetest peaches around.
Most Southern states are at their peak production in July, and peach festivals, contests and picking are happening all over the region. Find an event near you below, get links for peach recipes and tips for picking and preparing.
South Carolina Peach Festival – July 10-11
North Carolina Peach Festival – July 18
Peach Tips from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture:
- When picking, handle fruit carefully because peaches bruise very easily and decay develops rapidly.
- When selecting, look for peaches with a creamy to gold undercolor that best indicates ripeness. The amount of red blush on fruit depends on the variety and is not always a sign of ripeness. Two other indicators of ripeness are a well-defined crease and a good fragrance. Select fruit that has begun to soften for immediate use. Firm, ripe fruit can be held a few days at room temperature to ripen further.
- When storing, peaches should be held at 32-35 degrees F in high humidity. Fully ripened peaches should be refrigerated immediately and kept there until ready for consumption. Sound and mature, but not overripe, peaches can be expected to hold 1-2 weeks at 32-35 degrees F with little adverse effects. Peaches deteriorate rapidly when stored for longer periods.
- When ripening, a room temperature of 65-70 degrees F is best for mature peaches. There is no gain in sugar content once a peach is picked from a tree. Its ripening process consists primarily of softening, developing juiciness and developing flavor. So the riper a peach is at harvest, the more sugar it will contain. Remember, once a mature peach begins to ripen, it never stops; but you can slow the rate of ripening by storing it in low temperatures.
- When preparing, wash peaches gently, peel and remove pits. Handle carefully to avoid bruising. To peel a peach, dip it in boiling water for 30 seconds, then in cold water. The peel should slide off easily. To keep sliced peaches from darkening, dip in lemon juice or ascorbic acid.
Photo of North Carolina peaches by Bill Russ — VisitNC.com.