Local restaurants dish up the state fruit in desserts, cocktails, and savory dishes
Given that our ubiquitous state fruit has made its way onto our license plates and street signs on practically every corner, it should come as no surprise that local chefs are also tinkering with the Georgia peach in a number of creative ways.
The Pearson family has been growing Georgia peaches pretty much the same way for 128 years. The only thing that’s changed is who’s picking them.
The Mexicans—thirty-two of them—wait for the pickup truck. They are dressed, almost to a man, in dirty jeans, boots, long sleeves, and baseball caps. Some wear bandannas to shield their necks and ears from legions of gnats. The rising late-summer sun is starting to cut through the morning mist that clings to the orchards and fallow pastures of Peach County like a thin coat of fuzz.
You can have Georgia-grown, or you can have Certified Organic. But almost never both.
Five years ago, you would have had trouble finding Georgia’s most iconic fruit at a local farmers market. Peaches, like Vidalia onions, are usually grown on large commercial farms and distributed nationally through a system that gives little preference to local retail outlets.
A warning to peach fans: You'd better stock up now. Pearson Farm, by far the largest supplier of local peaches to Atlanta farmers markets, is winding down for the season. Its last peaches destined for Atlanta-area farmers markets are on their way.
I was lucky enough to participate in the judging of a peach cobbler contest last week, and now I’d like to share my good fortune with you. The July 3 contest at Grant Park Farmers Market was part of Peach Jam, a two-market celebration of Georgia’s most esteemed fruit. On June 30, East Atlanta Village Farmers Market held a peach cocktail contest. Both markets featured peach-themed kid activities, chef demos, snacks, and a guy wearing a peach suit.