Peaches should not go crunch. Unfortunately, I have bitten into far too many peaches of late that snapped like an apple. And most were too small to even be called a peach.
Most had good color and some even had a peach smell, which is why I bought them. However, I was generally disappointed.
I love yellow peaches. (Never have been fan of white peaches). Summer is for peach eating, those soft, almost-as big-as-a-softball juicy delights.
Don’t get me started on peach cobbler. We’d be here all day. A family friend makes one to die for.
While I have been disappointed more than pleased, I continue to buy peaches from roadside stands, farmers’ markets and supermarkets.
Shopping in Costco in Fresno recently, I was drawn to a pallet of big, red peaches like a fly to honey. They were packed in what I call mini-lugs. There were just 11 peaches in each lug.
I have been told you can tell if peaches are ripe by rubbing your finger across the skin. If it slips, it’s ripe. (I have tasked peaches you could not slip the skin with a Bowie knife.) I didn’t try the slip skin evaluation method on the Costco peaches. Didn’t want to mar the beautiful fruit for others. I just bought them, hoping for the Holy Grail of yellow peaches to be among my 11.
I was pleasantly surprised. I let a few sit in the small lug. Others went into the refrigerator.
When I started slicing them open, it was pure delight. Not a bad peach among the 11. They were uniform, sweet and firm, but not crunchy. They weren’t Elbertas, but very close. The box label identified them as Rich Lady, packed by Sun Valley Packing in Reedley.
I suspect they were field packed and not likely in bins. I could not see those peaches going down a packinghouse line. The small lugs obviously were expensive to field pack, but for my money they were well worth whatever the packer wanted to charge.
It was the type of pack every peach grower would like to put up for the consumer to enjoy. However, it is not that simple.
They all would like to grow an Elberta peach that would ship 1,000 miles; withstand unfriendly supermarket cold storage; and be soft and juicy for consumers. Unfortunately, peaches have been bred to look good rather than taste good. The industry has tried all kind of gimmicks to get consumers to ripen peaches on the kitchen counter. I don’t want to wait several days for my fruit to ripen in a brown paper bag.
I am not sure the pallet of Costco peaches would have survived a ride even to Los Angeles from Reedley in a semi, but they did survive the short 24-mile ride from Reedley to Fresno.
California tree fruit growers have struggled in recent years to give consumers a product they would enjoy and buy again. Several of the major packers in the Central Valley have gone out of business recently because the industry could not satisfy consumers. Many growers switch to citrus or other orchard crops like almonds, which are more profitable and require far less hand labor.
However, the summer of 2013 will long be remembered for the peaches that dribbled down my shirt when I bit into them and livened up a bowl of cereal like nothing else can.
Thanks Sun Valley Packing. You did well by the peach.
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