Wow, it’s been a crazy last few weeks! First off, I’m now a dad. Amanda gave birth to our baby Abigail, and they’re both doing great. It’s been a blur of happiness and excitement, combined with lots of wailing, sleeplessness, feedings, and diapers. And did I mention, we’re really, really happy?!
So Amanda is stepping away from the orchard for a couple of months to focus on Abigail, and while I unfortunately don’t get to do that, I’m going to be spending as much time with them as I can. I apologize if emails and social media, etc., aren’t responded to quite as quickly as normal. I’m doing my best to get to everything, but with my new responsibilities, it’s become a little harder to make time to sit at the computer. I still have to do all my normal orchard stuff, while spending hopefully less time at the orchard. I’ll eventually get it all figured out. Anyway, thank you all for your understanding, and here are the crop updates:
Peaches – So other than Abigail, probably the biggest news is that our peaches have started. We’re currently in the middle of Brightstar and two of the early Flamin’ Furies, PF-7A and PF-8 Ball. We’ll have some mix of those this week in the store. Which one will depend on how they ripen.
Freestone – It’s a toss up between the “freestone question” and the “Redhaven question” as to what we get asked the most during the summer. But I definitely wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked either one. If you don’t know what freestone is, it means the flesh of the peach separates fairly easily from the pit. That’s it. It doesn’t have anything to do with how good the peach tastes or its juiciness or sweetness. It strictly is a descriptor of how tightly the pit is attached on average in a particular variety. The opposite is a cling peach, meaning the flesh “clings” to the pit.
Freestone varieties tend to ripen a little bit later in the season than cling varieties, but not in the case of some of the newer varieties. It used to be that Redhaven was really the first “freestone” of the season (more on that below), but both the Flamin’ Fury varieties I mentioned I’m picking now are freestones. The situation where it’s good to know freestone v. cling is when you’re canning. Most people tend to prefer working with freestone peaches because it’s a little easier to prepare them. (Although ironically, all the canned peaches you see in the grocery store are made out of cling varieties.)
That being said, if you’re going to can a large amount, I recommend waiting until AFTER Redhaven, in early to mid August. That’s the peak of our peach season, and those varieties are the best to can. But if you’re looking for an excellent peach to eat, make a pie, or whatever else with, you can’t go wrong with any of the 25 peaches we grow.
Redhaven – So if freestone is question 1, Redhaven is question 1a every summer. And the answer is….they’ll be ready in about a week or so from when I’m writing this (Monday night). They’re getting close, but still at least a few days away. Now, I said above that I’d wait to can until AFTER Redhaven. This is because while they’re called a freestone, they aren’t always a freestone. Some years they actually cling, especially until they’re dead ripe. So for canning purposes, that eliminates the whole point of being a freestone. For other purposes, they are an excellent peach during their ripening window.
On a controversial side note, they probably don’t even make my top 5 favorite varieties that we grow. I think their popularity goes back to when there were like 5 commercially grown varieties, and they were the best of those. They have a lot of name recognition. (And in case any of you is wondering…my favorite variety these days is Coralstar, ready in a few weeks)
Sweet Corn – We started picking our first corn of the season this week, and it’s been really excellent. Amanda and I have had it for dinner every night since we’ve been picking it. Our favorite way to prepare it is to get a pot of water boiling, and then cook it for three minutes. That’s it. We grow really tender varieties, and any longer than that and the sugars convert into starches, and it’s not as good. And keep that in mind if you prepare it a different way than boiling…cook less than you would most other corn. In addition to sweet corn, a lot of the other summer vegetables have begun.
Apples – We’ll be picking our Pristine this week, probably starting tomorrow. Pristine is an excellent baking/cooking apple with enough sugar to be pretty good to eat, too. So stop in later this week if you need an apple fix. Next up after that will be Dandee Red in late August. Honeycrisp, the “Redhaven question” of the apples, won’t be ready until late August.
Berries – We still have a few red raspberries and blueberries available for picking, and at least blueberries are still in the store daily right now. Both are starting to be pretty slow to pick, but raspberries more so than blues. Once the berries are over, we take a break from offering u-pick until peak apple season, in September.
I think that’s everything I’ve got for right now. Abigail is currently sleeping, so I think I’m going to try to do the same for hopefully a couple of hours. I’ll talk to you again soon-ish. Thanks for your interest in our farm! And below is the obligatory “proud dad” photo, for those of you who like stuff like that. 😉