Sweet and juicy, peaches have long been a summertime favorite. Schnucks has partnered with two family-owned farms, Eckert’s Farms in Illinois and Flippen Fruit Farm in Tennessee, to provide the highest quality, finest tasting peaches.
Fruit trees were first planted on the Eckert’s farm in 1862. Now operated by the sixth and seventh generations of the family, peach trees are not allowed to bear fruit until they are three years old. Each year, blooms on young trees are removed, allowing the trees to develop a good root system.
Flippen Fruit Farm is located on the bluffs above Reelfort Lake in the northwest corner of Tennessee. The 180-acre orchard boasts 18,000 peach trees, providing some 40 varieties. At different times of the year, each variety will be harvested for an average of ten to 14 days. The trees will not bear fruit again until the following season.
The secret of a perfect peach lies in tree-ripening. Allowing the fruit to reach its maximum sweetness before harvesting increases sugar content. When selecting peaches, choose slightly firm, plump peaches that yield to slight pressure. Look at the background color of the fruit – a yellow tone indicates sweet flavor, while green will result in a less flavorful peach. Blushes are an indicator of the variety of peach, not its ripening status.
Peaches require additional time after purchase to reach maximum juiciness. To do this, place your peaches in a paper bag and store at room temperature for two to three days. Refrigerating unripe peaches will inhibit the ripening process and cause the fruit to become dry, mealy and flavorless. Once the peaches ripen, they can be refrigerated for five to seven days.
To easily peel this fruit, place in boiling water for one minute and then immerse in ice water for a minute. It helps to toss peeled or cut peaches with fresh lemon juice to curb browning.
However prepared – fresh and raw, or bubbling in a classic peach crisp – peaches are the fruit of summer.