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What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Early Season Peaches

White peaches from Walker Farms
White peaches from Walker Farms
Felicia Friesema

It seems a little backward that in order for us to enjoy plentiful, juicy, and sun-colored peaches right on time (that is to say now) we have to have had a long and decently chilly winter. Cold enough to give the trees a good period of dormancy so that come blossom time, they act like pent up teenagers in the back of an El Dorado. This has been exactly that kind of year.

Still, we are in the early stages of the peach season so there are a few things that need to be considered. The peaches out right now are generally early season peaches from the desert orchards. They tend to be considerably smaller than later season peaches like the O'Henry and Sangre de Toro (an exclusive variety of Tenerelli Orchards), are generally a little less sweet (though a taste test this weekend pretty much upended that theory), and are mostly "cling" fruit, meaning the pit doesn't pull cleanly away from the fruit flesh. The "freestone" varieties won't generally be in until mid to late June.

Exceptions to all of the above include the "donut" or "Saturn" type peaches. These flat little fruits are so packed with sugar that they have a tendency to ferment if left to their own devices and as such are only around for a short time. The best way we've had them lately has been enrobed in a buttery crepe with just a little velvety mascarpone. Whatever the peach you purchase, do not leave it out in the fruit bowl: its lack of natural fruit oil protection means the skin has a tendency to shrivel and darken within a day or two when left in open air. Ripening methods for harder peaches are as varied as the summer days are long, but our usual paper bag method has been tried and true.

Donut or Saturn peaches
Donut or Saturn peaches
Felicia Friesema
What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Early Season Peaches
Felicia Friesema

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