Oh, how I love fresh peach season in Georgia! Thanks to our thriving farmer’s markets intown such as the East Atlanta Village and Grant Park Farmer’s Markets, the fine folks at Pearson Peaches are there every week during the peach harvesting season to support my habit.
Georgia has gone through some changes as the Peach State. The fruit trees were first introduced to the Golden Isles by Franciscan monks in the 17th century, and grown by the Cherokee in the 18th century. After the Civil War peaches hit a real boom, and the introduction of refrigerated boxcars in the 1920’s meant that they could be shipped throughout the country. Georgia now ranks 3rd in peach producing states, behind California and South Carolina.
It can still be hard to find a Georgia peach at a major grocery retailer, but the local farmer’s markets hold the key. South Carolina does produce a very tasty peach, and for a while I was a fan over anything I had tasted in Georgia. But then I met the Pearson Farm‘s folks, and it was love at first slurp.
I buy as many peaches as I can manage during the season, and then slice, chop, dry and freeze the extras so I have them for use throughout the year. I have been making a dynamite peach cobbler with dried peaches that have been rehydrated in mead (spiced honey wine), cooked in a large dutch oven over a campfire the last few summers. That’s good eatin’, I’m here to tell ya!
For my dried peaches, I use my dehydrator. I peel and slice the peaches and put them directly on the shelves without dipping them in anything. Some turn dark, but it does not affect the flavor so I don’t mind. I prep mostly slices, but also a fair amount of ‘bits’, which are great for muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, ice cream, etc. The slices are great for pies, meat dishes, and eating straight out of the bag.
Do yourself a favor and seek out some local Georgia peaches this summer. Eat one right there at the market and let the juices roll down your chin. Take the rest home and enjoy as many as you can while they are at their peak, and then put some by for later on in the year. Peachy!