Some time ago, a friend told me about his tradition of making a wish as he bit into the first peach of the season. I’ve never heard or seen anything about this custom since, but I made a point of adopting it nonetheless. It’s such a happy moment when the seasonal farmers’ markets start up again and the grocery stores start offering local berries and stone fruit in season and at in-season prices.
For me, that moment happened this morning, as I was greeted at the market with the first real deals on ripe, sweet berries and the first cherries, apricots and peaches. I chose the most local peach, California’s Summerwhite, which happened to be the one that felt the ripest. White peaches, though not the classic deep summer yellow, have a multi-colored soft peach skin, and fruit the pale yellow color of spring butter. They also boast a lower acidity than yellow peaches, which renders them sweet and flavorful, even though these first ones have a relatively short growing season.
White peaches also ripen more quickly than traditional peaches and they tend to taste sweet when picked, in contrast to yellow peaches, which sweeten over time, as they ripen and acid levels drop. Though white peaches have been around for about 30 years and are popular in Asia, it’s taken American consumers a bit of time to discover their joys.
Once home, I washed the ripest specimen and bit right in, ushering in summer right then and there. It was sweet, wonderful, and extremely juicy. The air coming through the open window suddenly felt extra warm and the leaves on the trees seemed particularly green. My wish? A great, warm, sensual summer, with lots of time to enjoy family, friends and nature, to be outside, to make and grow things, to eat healthy food and to take enthusiastic bites out of life.
Last year, we made peach chutney and apricot-lavender jam, among other delights. I sense another good canning season to come.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman