When I was a kid, my parents took us peach picking every year. The picking was easy which made the stopping difficult. I can remember filling more boxes than the back of our van could hold. Each of us rode home itchy and sticky, with heavy boxes full of peaches on our laps. Ah, the memories. Well, the peach doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now it’s my turn to drag my kids out to the peach orchards. And just like my parents before me, we pick too many. Sometimes too much of a good thing is still a good thing.
This past weekend, my husband and I joined forces with my sister’s family to pick Suncrest peaches at a local orchard. Last year my sister & I picked 112 pounds. This year we wised up and brought our dad and husbands along. They lugged our overflowing boxes of peaches from the trees to our cars. Grand total? 235 pounds. See? I told you the easier they are to pick, the harder it is to stop.
My sister and I have been busy canning them as fast as they ripen. (BTW, I loved reading all the canning comments you left on this previous post.)
Although hundreds of varieties of peaches have been tested in the Willamette Valley, only a few are grown here commercially. Here are three of the most common varieties you will probably find growing in an orchard near you:
:: Elberta – These peaches are firm and freestone, meaning the pit and fruit do not cling to one another. They are good for eating fresh, freezing, or canning.
:: Sunhaven – These are usually available in early August. With our crazy weather this year, you can still find this variety at a handful of farms. They have great flavor and texture, making them good candidates for canning or eating fresh.
:: Veteran – Because they are reliable producers, Veterans are the top dogs in western Oregon. These peaches are freestone and are easily peeled without scalding, making them great canning peaches. They’re not as popular for eating fresh.
I called around to several local peach farms (go here for a more complete list). This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the peach picking options in our area, but it should give you an idea of some of the varieties and prices available.
Early varieties are done, but later varieties will be ripening through September. As always, make sure you call ahead to confirm availability.
Sauvie Island Farms just outside Portland, OR (503) 621-3988
Veterans $1.50/lb (discount if you pick over 15 lbs.)
Albeke Farms Oregon City, OR (503) 632-3989
Suncrest (ready 8/27) & Veterans (ready next week) – .85/lb.
Kelso Blueberries Boring, OR (503) 663-6830
Veterans (ready next week) & Elberta (mid-September) – .50/lb.
Greens Bridge Gardens Jefferson, OR (541) 327-2995
3 varieties ready $1/lb.
Grandpa’s Fresh Market Albany, OR (541) 928-8778
Olson Stuart Farms Salem, OR (503) 362-5942
4 varieties of canning peaches $1/lb.
Daum’s Produce Farm Salem, OR (503) 362-7246
Elberta (not ready yet) .90/lb.
Draper Girls Parkdale, OR (541) 352-6625
Reliant $1/lb for 20+ lbs.
Firestone Farms Vancouver, WA (360)693-2492
Elbertas (next Thurs.) $1/lb. or .90/lb. for 60+ lbs.
Where is your favorite spot to pick peaches? What do you like to do with your peaches once you haul them home?
Emily is the author of our Frugal Homemaking series. Emily and her husband, Ed, live in the Portland area with their two adorable kids, Elly and Evan.
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