KENT, - OHIO - For 139 years, the Beckwith family has grown all sorts of fruits and vegetables on their Kent farm. For all those years, late Summer meant two things.
Sweet corn and peaches.
Over the last decade or so, peach production has been less than positive. Sally Beckwith, who runs the farm, says " Spring freezes have really hurt our peaches. They bloom early, and the blossoms are very sensitive to frost." Her fears peaked once again this last Spring for a very good reason. "We had several hours where we registered 17 degrees this past Spring". But, the beautiful pink blooms made it.
The crop here at Beckwith's and at farms all over Ohio has been, well, peachy! The six varieties grown here have done well. Sally says, "It's the best crop we've had in years. Now, Beckwith's is a no-pick orchard, but they do encourage visitors to walk the farm.
They have rows and rows of apple, pear, and peach trees loaded with fruit. The dark green foliage of the peach trees hide a colorful surprise, with dozens of peaches peeking out, their deep crimson, orange and yellow skins showing their at the peak of ripeness. You can even smell them while you stroll between the trees on the century-farm grounds.
The hand picked peaches are going fast, and now the "Coralstone" variety is ripe and ready. Betsy Neylon runs the tasting room at Beckwith's. She shows customers the versatility of the peach through recipes, both sweet and savory. Her biggest request is to show folks how to cut a peach. "You take your knife and run it right down the line on the fruit from top to bottom, all the way around, then just twist, and there you have it", Betsy said. She went on, you can eat them like that, grill them, cut them into pieces, remove the skin and make pies, cobblers, or even salsa. The sky is the limit with peaches.
The six varieties grown at Beckwith's are "freestone" peaches and not "kling" peaches. Sorry, Betsy Kling. All that means is when you cut the peach, the flesh comes away from the pit, freeing it. Peaches have been around for millions of years, and play a role in ancient mythology. In Japan, the legend goes that an old, poor couple lived alone in the woods. One day, the wife was by a river when a large peach floated over to her. She thought it was a gift from the Gods for her and her husband to eat. She took it home and when they cut it open, a baby was inside. They named him "Momotaro" which means "Peach Boy" and he grew up to fight evil and wrongdoing in the World.
Peaches have a very short window of ripeness and according to Sally Beckwith, the peak is about halfway over. She expects to have fresh peaches through Labor Day. Also, August 24 is "Peach Pie Day" and the Beckwith is stocked with pies. When you get to the farm, just follow your nose.
If you have a favorite peach recipe or way to eat them, please share. Everyone deserves a taste of the best Summer fruit flavor around. The glorious, delicious peach.
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