School has begun and summer is winding down, but you still can honor one of Liberty County’s favorite summer treats.
August is National Peach Month, and in light of that, we will educate you about the peach.
According to gapeaches.org, Franciscan monks introduced peaches to the coastal Georgia area in 1571. By the mid-1700s, peaches were cultivated by the Cherokee Indians throughout this area. Peach production reached an all-time high in 1928, when 8 million bushels were collected. Now, the average number of bushels for the state is closer to 2.6 million bushels. The industry average for the state is approximately $30 million.
According to wherefoodcomesfrom.com, Georgia has two commercial growing regions, with 83 percent of the state’s production in central Georgia, particularly in Crawford, Peach, Taylor and Macon counties. South Georgia is responsible for 17 percent of the state’s harvest.
Fresh Georgia peaches are rarer of a commodity than one might think. Also according to wherefoodcomesfrom.com, peaches only are available for 16 weeks in the year, from mid-May to August. To ensure the freshest pick, individuals should look for a creamy gold to yellow under-color. The reddish color is an indication of variety, rather than ripeness.
Each year, many peaches go to waste due to their thin skins. According to a recent blog entry on npr.org, peaches do not ship well, cannot withstand being touched/dropped/squeezed by numerous shoppers and have a short shelf life. Of course, all this is in addition to a limited amount of time they are available.
Despite these hardships, peaches are synonymous with Georgia and summertime. In 1995, Georgia became the official peach state because of the growers’ reputation for producing the highest-quality fruits. According to gapeaches.org, Georgia peach growers withstand rigorous standards and are responsible for developing many of the leading peach variations available to shoppers.
The Hinesville Downtown Farmers Market generally has fresh peaches that can be used in one of the many recipes featured on the Liberty CVB Pinterest board. You also can find several featured recipes in the Good Food Friday posts at www.blog.discoverlibertyga.com.