Local peaches are my favorite fruit. I buy them by the box load and can eat four in a sitting easily. I prefer yellow peaches over white, and like to let them sit for a few days to soften so the skins often slip right off.
A fresh local peach can be frozen, canned, dried, or eaten fresh. They can be grilled, baked, and make great smoothies and fruit salads.
My mother always swore Georgia peaches were the best. What I’ve learned since is that buying peaches locally is the key. Maryland peaches are delicious and juicy, but only when bought locally and in season!
Local Peach Taste
Local peaches are juicy, tart, and sweet. You can buy white or yellow peaches, though yellow are more common. The white peaches are sweet but lack the tartness I prefer.
White peaches are described as delicate, with a floral sweetness. Yellow peaches are acidic, firmer, and more tangy. The yellow peaches are great for canning because they hold their texture when cooked.
Peaches also come in clingstone, freestone, and semi-freestone. This refers to the pit inside them. A freestone peach is easier to cut up for freezing or canning. Obviously, the clingstone ones don’t let go of their pits. They are better for fresh eating rather than cutting.
You may see donut peaches available. These local peaches are not round, but more donut shaped. These are heirloom clingstone peaches.
Nectarines are also a type of peach. They have the same firm texture and yellow flesh, but are darker and have smooth skin over the fuzzy peach skin. Nectarines are sweeter and more aromatic, and are great for grilling because of their texture.
Whatever type of peach you prefer, make sure to buy ripe ones. Local peaches are picked ripe rather than unripe for transport. A fresh ripe peach is still a bit hard, so bring them home and let them soften a few days on the counter. Check them and eat at peak softness!
Growing Local Peaches
You will find local peaches in July, August, and sometimes September. They like heat, and are best picked ripe rather than under ripe. You can find them in farmstands, at the farmers markets, and at pick your own farms throughout Maryland.
Peaches grow on trees, and are easy to grow in Maryland. They suffer a lot of pest pressure here. You can buy dwarf trees or regular peach trees and prune them to keep them small.
An organic way to keep pests away is to spray them with kaolin clay, a superfine white clay powder sold under the brand name Surround. If you time it right, you can grow pest free peaches without any pesticides.
Once peach season starts, there will be loads of peaches to buy. I buy a box at a time, and freeze them, can them, and dry them. Plus I eat a ton. My family loves my peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.
Preserving Local Peaches
Local peaches can be water bath canned, dried, or frozen. All work well, and taste great. I do all three usually. The dried peaches and peach leather get eaten quickly. The canned peaches are a great treat in winter. And frozen peaches are fantastic for smoothies, cobbler, or just eating out of hand.
Buy freestone peaches when preserving local peaches. They are easier to cut up. I find that peaches that have been sitting for a few days may peel easily. If not, dipping peaches in boiling water for a bit will help peel them.
When canning peaches, stick with yellow peaches because they are firmer. You can make simple canned peaches, or add cinnamon or nutmeg. Peach butter and peach jam are delicious as well.
Freeze peaches with or without skin, in eighths. Lay them on a tray separately, freeze them, then place in containers for longer freezer time. Alternatively, freeze in water or syrup to avoid freezer burn for longer freezing times.
Dried peaches can be cut thin or thick. Dehydrate them until they are dry and pliable. They should keep for 6-12 months in jars in a dark place after being properly conditioned.
Local Peach Recipes
Peach Cobbler is an amazing dessert, especially with homemade ice cream on the side. This recipe works well with frozen local peaches as well.
Grilling during the summer is a great way to keep heat out of the house. Make these Grilled Peaches as a delicious finish to your meal.
Add some Peach Salsa to your grilled fish or pork. Peach salsa is a great appetizer as well!
You can’t go wrong with some Peach Ice Cream to beat the heat.
Did you Know?
Though peaches originated in China, they came to the rest of the world through the silk roads into Persia. Thus, they have the Latin name Prunus persica. In fact, peaches have been cultivated for over 3000 years.
A dwarf peach tree can produce up to 135 pounds of peaches in a year, while a standard tree can give up to 270 pounds!
Nectarines are peaches, just with smooth rather than fuzzy skin. Nectarines have a recessive gene expressed that removes the fuzz. That fuzz helps repel pests.
Local Maryland peaches are delicious, and easily available right now. They are great fresh and preserved, and can last all year long if you preserve them now! Once they are gone, you’ll have to wait until next year. Get some local peaches today!