Maury Feren is 100 years old and has been in the fresh fruit and produce business for over 85 years. He knows produce!
He wrote the following column about Peaches.
Today I am going to talk about the wonderful memories of all the perfect peaches I met in my search for good taste. I've purchased peaches (local) from 3 different farm stands all priced differently all claiming to be Amish but only one lot made the top.
My problem is I know what a local peach should taste like. My early history goes back to Blackmore Farms in Painesville, Ohio where I was subjected to the most exquisite peaches I have ever tasted. These big beautiful Hale peaches (variety), fully red ripe all around and perfectly shaped.
Mr. Blackmore knew how important it was to handle a fruit like a peach - which is so fragile the least bit of bruise would turn brown. It never happened because they were transported on racks so the peaches never touched each other. Maybe 50-60 baskets came in racked and you could smell the flavor. Unforgettable 75 years later.
And then I remember my visit to Paris with my children. I went over to a fruit stand where peaches were still ripening on a tree. Some were already over ripe but those I picked were truly tree ripened. A dollar a peach seemed high for that time, but I would pay anything to taste another peach that was not only beautiful, perfect in color and taste that could not be founded anywhere else.
I never want you to forget it's the land and the soil that makes the difference plus the grower who works his magic.
I also think back of the peaches that we used to get from Michigan, Hale Havens. Boy were they juicy and sweet. They use to be packed in bushels but since they were so delicate and fragile there were always a lot of bruising.
Benton Harbor, Michigan was the major shipping point. We also use to get some premium tasting fruit from South Carolina layer- packed like eggs. They could match the best of them. I don't know why all of these peaches have disappeared. New Jersey is a great fruit state. We use to receive shipments of their best fruit in early August. That is another area that has disappeared from the scene. I don't remember all of the varieties because they have changed over the years. New Jersey was a good supplier but it was only a short season.
West Virginia shipped some harder varieties of peaches that had good color but the hardness took away some of its taste.
I can't stop unless I talk about the Canadian shipments that we received for many years in Cleveland. They were knock outs. That fruit was bursting in color and the peach juices just poured down your lips as you bit into it. I don't know why the government stepped in and didn't allow shipments to the United States. The Canadian fruit from Niagara had to be some of the best tasting varieties I had from anywhere. What a great lost that was. I wonder what happened to that deal. That had to be a story in itself.
But let me tell you my own story. I had a connection from Perry or Painesville, Ohio from a family farm Pederson's that ranked with the best. I used them commercially when I was in business. That farm is still around today. You can stop by their roadside stand and you will love the fruit that they sell. It matches the best in flavor and appearance.
Today I spent some time in Chesterland, Ohio were there are 3 local growers who are offering tree ripened peaches. Having almost thrown out the store bought peaches that had been so hard and dry they had to be cooked. I talked to all of these growers. Their fruit looks magnificent. Great size, great color and wonderful taste.
California continues to ship hard fruit that needs 3-4 days ripening and are not free stone. It is quite odd that nectarines seem to ripen better than the peaches from California from the same areas.
Now is your chance to savor some of the best fruit just like I have been talking about from local areas. A month from now your mouth will be watering for more of the same. I look forward to meeting you there.
There is a family farm called (West) in Madison, Ohio right on route 20 who produce some of the best tasting fruit in this area. Don't you miss it. It will be your best treat for peaches this year.
See more of Maury Feren's columns