Feeling Berry Peachy
Vitamins A, C, E, and several B vitamins are present, including thiamine, niacin, and folate. Lutein, the carotenoid in peaches, has been shown to protect the retina from macular degeneration, reduce nuclear cataracts, and even produce anti-inflammatory effects on skin damage caused from harmful UVB rays. The minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc provide a wealth of positive benefits, including stress relief from magnesium and boosted immune system and anti-aging properties from zinc. Peaches can also aid digestion as an alkaline and fiber-rich fruit, and flush toxins from the liver.
“There’s your Karma ripe as peaches.”
~Jack Kerouac, Desolation Angels
How to pick the perfect peach
Know your local farmers and get the inside scoop when they will have their ripest peaches. Growers have different picking times and practices, so find out what works for you.
While there can be variation in color, (some areas will be lighter due to leaf shading and less sunlight), look for vibrant color overall and avoid green tones.
Press, don’t squeeze
Peaches bruise easily, so don’t squeeze them like a stress ball. Gently press around the area of the stem. If it gives, it’s ready. If not, give it a few days or use in salads.
Look for farmers and roadside stands with tasting displays. If they don’t offer, ask nicely. When you have a variety of peaches available, you want to know if the white peaches or the yellow peaches are juiciest or perfect for your cobbler or homemade ice cream.
Are peaches difficult to grow in San Diego?
According to the San Diego Edible Garden Society, the problem with growing peaches in San Diego’s coastal area is the paucity of warm summer days. However, horticulturists have been developing cultivars, and the news is very promising for several varieties. If you are interested in growing, try the Donut Peach, Red Baron, Ventura, and August Pride for a range in ripening choices. For earlier ripening varieties, look for Desert Gold, Florida Prince, and Tropic Snow, which all ripen in May. Inland areas with hotter summer days will produce good quality fruit.
333 Pacific: Go beachside in Oceanside with a cottage cheese panna cotta served with warm roasted peach compote, cracked black pepper, and pistachio shortbread.
Cusp Dining & Drinks: Overlook the Pacific while sipping their aged vin de pêche, a housemade brandywine made with local peaches and peach leaves, served neat as an apéritif.
Queenstown Public House: Want something refreshing without a lot of fuss? Keep it light with their Peach Basil Sangria, made with Pinot Grigio, fresh peaches, basil, and Champagne.
“And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, and the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery.”
~ Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
From the epic lines of Walt Whitman to Gordon Lightfoot’s Blackberry Wine lyrics, the glossy blackberry has beguiled fruit lovers for generations. With its tartly sweet flavor and magnificient purple juice, the blackberry stands apart from the raspberry and blueberry with a distinctive character and tannin.
Blackberries are rich in Vitamin C and are bursting with bioflavonoids, containing one of the highest antioxidant levels among fruits. With a history dating back to the Romans and Greeks, the blackberry was once referred to as the “gout berry” for its medicinal effects. Its abundance of anthocyanins may help inhibit tumor growth and reduce the risk of heart disease, including atherosclerosis and stroke. The leaves have long been used in teas for digestive health, sore throat, and to treat inflammation. They can also be used in tinctures for topical application for wound healing. However, blackberry tea is not recommended for pregnant women and children.
Can anyone grow blackberries?
The San Diego Edible Garden Society gives encouraging news, stating blackberries are easy to grow, given basic water requirements and a sturdy trellis system. They recommend thornless varieties and offer eight possible choices for successful growing in San Diego, including Apache, Black Diamond, and Triple Crown. While blackberries won’t produce the first year, each year after will give you delicious, aromatic blackberries.
Where to Find
Farmers’ Markets and Farms
According to the San Diego Farm Bureau, blackberries peak in June and July, so mark your calendar for summer pies, jams, and ice cream. With the changing climate, check with your farmers’ markets for early arrivals in May.
Each year, Jerome and Noel Stehly host a Blackberry U-Pick for locals to select their own juicy blackberries. Look for them to appear in their Bay Park and Kensington storefronts (check for dates at stehlyfarmsorganics.com).
Extraordinary Desserts, Little Italy: Lovely and elegant, the blackberry blueberry cheesecake trifle layers white chocolate mousse, vanilla pound cake, cheesecake, fresh blackberries and blueberries, with hazelnut almond pralines. It arrives on your plate topped with whipped cream and fresh flowers.
The Prado, Balboa Park: Try not to skip dinner before indulging in their double dose blackberry lemon cake made with fresh blackberries, lemon ginger curd, and blackberry cassis sauce.
Fig Tree Café, Liberty Station: As natural as peanut butter and jelly, blackberries and Bourbon are a match made in cocktail heaven. Try the simple BBC (Bourbon Blackberry Collins) made with Maker’s 46 Bourbon, fresh blackberries, lemon, cane sugar and soda.