The NJ Peach Season is at its Peak!
Surprise! While initial estimates were that weather conditions could mean a smaller-than-usual crop of Jersey Fresh peaches and nectarines, New Jersey’s peach growers report that their crops are not only better than expected, but this year’s fruit is especially sweet, juicy and very tasty. Consumers who have been buying Jersey-grown peaches concur, according to the small sample of shoppers polled by the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council. Peaches and nectarines are actually at their peak now, and will be available through September.
“The recent warm and dry weather provided perfect conditions for beautiful, extra flavorful peaches with high sugar (or “brix”) concentrations,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher, following a tour through Jersey Fruit Cooperative in Glassboro. “Our growers harvest nearly two dozen varieties of peaches including the Gloria, Jersey Queen, Flameprince, Cresthaven and Laurols, which are now in season.
“With kids returning to school after Labor Day, people may think the summer growing season ends, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our growers will still have peaches and nectarines; put a peach in your child’s lunch pack for a sweet treat,” says Fisher.
When shopping for peaches, look for a nice red coloring on a deep yellow background. If a peach feel firm leave it out on a countertop to soften just a bit, then refrigerate, to maintain their ripeness. Passionate peach lovers, however, differ on methods of storing peaches and nectarines: “Refrigerate immediately.” “Never refrigerate; it spo,,ils the taste.” “Put in a paper bag on countertop.” “Put in a plastic bag on countertop.” “Don’t cover at all when ripening on countertop.” Storage and ripening seem to be a matter of preference, but, whatever works is the best method.
“Everyone knows that the closer the source of peaches and nectarines is to the retailer or farmer's market, the more they are able to mature on the tree, thus retaining their sweetness, compared to those that must be shipped over several days, from farther away. “Jersey Fresh peaches and nectarines are as fresh and local as it gets. I encourage you to take advantage of these sweet treats now, and, be sure to look for New Jersey peaches and nectarines when you are shopping,” says Fisher.
Last year, New Jersey farmers produced 21,000 tons of peaches on 4,700 acres. The value of the crop was $27.6 million.
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is a non-profit voluntary organization of growers, shippers, wholesalers and associated industries dedicated to maintaining a viable peach industry in the Garden State, thus preserving farmers and farmland; and to providing the highest quality and best tasting fresh peaches for consumers. New Jersey is the fourth largest peach producing state in the country, with approximately 75 orchards on 5,000 acres.