Skip to content

Texas Eats: Peaches

nectarine.jpg

That’s a nectarine in the picture, to be accurate. But it’s very much like a peach: In genetic terms, a single recessive gene differentiates the two. That gene makes a nectarine’s skin smooth and hairless, unlike its fuzzy cousin’s. Many folks think it subtly changes the flavor, too. Texas’s peach and nectarine industries are huge, together worth more than 30 million dollars annually. Lately, the trend among peach and nectarine growers is to retail their fruit directly to consumers — at roadside stands and farmers’ markets, in particular. In Gillespie County, where some 40% of the state’s peach acreage grows, tourists from Austin and San Antonio buy them by the box-load. This is a change from the days when farmers relied on wholesaling — in which they would sell to a distributor, who would then re-sell the fruit to grocery stores, restaurants, and the like. The direct-retailing option redounds to both the farmer’s and the consumer’s benefit, since the farmer doesn’t lose a cut of the profit to the wholesaler and the consumer gets a higher-quality fruit. This is because the farmer can pick the fruit later to sell it directly to the consumer, as opposed to picking earlier if that fruit’s going to be shipped to a wholesaler and beyond. The younger fruit ships far better since it’s firmer, but the flavor never develops as nicely after picking. “If you want absolutely the best-tasting peach,” says Jim Kamas, a pomologist with Texas Cooperative Extension, “get something right off the tree.” At this sweet, soft stage, he says, it can be ruined by commercial shipping. “People can cart them home with much more care than you can load an 18-wheeler,” he says. You can find peaches this week at Austin’s farmers’ markets and at roadside stands through July. (See this website for specific locations.)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
*
*