Crop has been especially sweet this year
We love peaches a bushel and a peck.
The summer sweeties have been kissed with plenty of sunshine this year in Michigan, and now is the time to enjoy them. The crop is right on schedule and bountiful at roadside stands, farms, farmers markets and orchards. Because this summer has been unusually dry, you can expect this season’s fruit to be sweeter, growers say.
Mike Mitchell, manager at Erie Orchard and Cider Mill, about an hour south of downtown Detroit, expects peaches to be available through Labor Day.
“We have a great crop of peaches, and it’s a little better than last year,” Mitchell said. “We started with Early Red Havens, and now we are into the Red Haven.”
In a typical year, peaches can hang around until mid-September. Right now, most orchards are picking the Red Haven peach variety.
“It’s an old variety, been around since 1940 and was the first reliable freestone,” said Bob Tritten, district fruit educator for MSU Extension. “Currently, it is the most widely planted freestone peach variety worldwide.”
The Red Haven peach, also spelled “Redhaven,” is part of the family of Haven peach varieties. Red Haven peaches are unique to Michigan and were developed in South Haven on the west side of the state. The area is known for fruit growing because of its proximity to Lake Michigan.
“The Red Haven peach varieties were revolutionized in the Midwest because it was such a superior-quality peach,” Tritten said. “They eat well, ripen well and grow well.”
In southeast Michigan, Tritten said, there are a couple of dozen peach growers scattered from Monroe County through the Detroit area, and there’s a nice concentration of growers in Macomb and southern Lapeer counties.
Katrina Roy, co-owner of Westview Orchards in Macomb County’s Washington Township, says the 2018 growing season has been almost perfect.
“Peaches love that sunshine and hot humid growing season,” she said.
Westview grows Red Havens, a variety that Roy acknowledges isn’t large in size, but “what they lack in size they make up for in flavor.”
“It’s a good-quality, fresh-eating, jam-making, quality product, and they are always dependable,” she said.
Peaches should keep about a week after they’ve been picked, Roy said. Once you bring them home, you can store them in refrigerator to stop the maturing. A few days before you’re ready to use them, Roy suggested putting a few peaches on the kitchen counter on a towel (with another towel on top) and leaving them to ripen for a few days.
“The towel helps keep the fruit flies at a minimum,” she said
Don’t wash the peaches until you’re ready to use them, advised Roy. Washing them under warm water takes care of the peach fuzz, she said.