This weekend we decided to do something that none of us have done before: we picked peaches.
Pick-Your-Own was a staple of my childhood. Scotland is renowned for its soft fruit growing so we would pick berries throughout the season, gorging on them until we swore we would never eat them again. Other times we would head to the farm to pick up vegetables or to root around and find free range chicken, duck and goose eggs – fingers crossed for a double yolker. Peaches, however, were not part of my landscape growing up*. There were apple orchards and pear trees, plums and apricots but no peaches. So peach picking was a new experience for us all.
We headed out to a farm near Pennsylvania’s border with New Jersey. Once there, we collected some plastic bushels** and hopped on the trailer attached to a tractor to be taken out into the fields. We were assured that it was too far to walk but actually everything was within easy walking distance and we ended up walking back even though we were carrying full buckets by then. It was, therefore, possible to wander around and collect all manner of seasonal produce.
The kids and I are all huge devourers of peaches and Mr Pict is quite fond of them as ingredients in pies and cobblers so we devoted most of our time on the farm in the peach orchard. As an aside, thanks to my husband being a Civil War nerd, I can never not think of body strewn battlefields when I see the phrase “peach orchard”. Anyway, there were yellow peaches, white peaches and nectarines all ripe and available to be picked. Our preference is for juicy, fuzzy, fleshy yellow peaches so we wandered far down those rows and started picking. The fruit was abundant and easily plucked from the branches. We were looking for peaches that had a nice red bloom on them but were not so ripe that they would need to be eaten immediately. My 8 year old found some peaches were the silhouette of a leaf or of the curve of an adjacent peach had been caught on the red part of the skin which was quite interesting to see.
Having filled two bushels with peaches, we decided to head over to the vegetable patches. My personal aversion to aubergine means that my kids have little or no experience of eating those beyond their appearance in ratatouille. We, therefore, looked at two different varieties of aubergine (or eggplant as they are called in America), the regular bulbous ones and the longer Italian ones. My 9 year old selected an almost spherical, deeply purple aubergine to try. We then headed to the area where beans were grown and in no time at all we had filled an entire bucket with green beans and yellow wax beans. I tried in vain to find the okra and the boys were beginning to melt in the afternoon son so I had to give up that quest.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our first peach picking experience and it saved us so much money to buy the fruit and veg through pick-your-own that we definitely think we will return to that and other farms again to enjoy collecting more delicious seasonal produce. Now I need to go and make a peach cobbler.
* I believe peach trees can be grown in the UK but I have personally never seen them.
** We collected our fruit in bushels but I couldn’t resist the alliteration of peck for the title.