This morning, while driving by one of my local farm stands, I spied several bushel baskets overflowing with peaches. Some of us live for the seasonal superabundance of asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes, corn and peaches, so naturally I pulled off the road to load up. “How are the peaches? Wow, they are huge. I hope they are not mealy,” I said, making idle chit-chat. “I wouldn’t know, I hate peaches,” was the reply from the teenage farm stand attendant. “What? Hate peaches? How could this be? I then launched into an all-out soliloquy on all things peachy. Perhaps it is the fuzzy skin, but I can only hope that, once I left, she bravely bit into one the purest joys of August.
Ever since I was a child, I could push aside my extreme loathing of having sticky hands and bite into a fresh peach, letting the juices cover my hands and run down my arms. The fuzzy skin never bothered me; I always thought it had the most flavor. As an adult, I now know that the skin contains the most nutrients. Peaches are chock-full of vitamins A, B and C. They are a fabulous source of fiber and contain lycopene, flavonoids and lutein, which can help inhibit the growth of cancer and tumors.
While a straightforward peach is sublime, peaches are standouts in buckles, cobblers, crumbles, jams, pies, tarts or simply grilled and served with vanilla ice cream. Beyond the conventional, why not give peaches a go in a salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. How about peach salsa from our friends at Edible Phoenix, who we cannot help but think know a thing or two about salsa.. Is it cocktail hour? May we suggest a Peach Old Fashioned from Edible Finger Lakes or a Peach Smash from Edible Jersey.
Peach exaltation aside, we would remiss if we did not reiterate the plight of one of our oldest and largest peach farms: Davis Peach Farm in Wading River. Earlier this month the farm was devastated by a freak wind storm which knocked down thousands of their trees in just ten minutes. Prior to hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Davis Peach Farm enjoyed a long-standing reputation for their stone fruit harvests, growing 80 varieties of peaches, 50 varieties of plums, 30 varieties of nectarines and 6 varieties of apricots on the 64-acre farm. Both hurricanes took huge tolls on their orchards and, while they have struggled to come back, this last storm could be the final blow for this 100 year old farm. Simply put, Davis Peach Farm needs our help. Once you wipe the peachy stickiness from your fingers, go immediately to their gofundme page and pledge something. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”