Where to find Arkansas peaches + recipes to savor them

Peach Galette a la mode (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Peach Galette a la mode (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

A perfectly summer ripe peach may be one of the most wonderful things on this planet.

A mushy, mealy peach picked before it was ripe, refrigerated and shipped thousands of miles is definitely not.

Arkansas is blessed with a plethora of peach varieties that, in a good year, means we can enjoy these fuzzy stone fruits from June until September.

2021 has not been a good year.

Peach orchards across the state experienced a double whammy of bitter sub-freezing temperatures and snow early in the season followed by a late freeze in April. For some orchards that combination means they will have no peaches this year. Other orchards fared a little better.

Here's a roundup of peach orchards and farm stands around the state and their peach status as of deadline. This list is by no means comprehensive of all peach orchards and farms in the state. Our apologies to anyone we left off the list. Information for all orchards/farms can be found on Facebook unless otherwise noted.

Barnhill Orchards in Lonoke will have peaches in July.

The Cabot Patch in Cabot expects a small crop this year.

Cadron Crest Orchard in Guy has you-pick and picked peaches ready.

Cox Berry Farm and Nursery in Clarksville will not have peaches this year.

Drewry Farm and Orchards in Dover reports on its Facebook page peaches, in limited quantities, are available.

Faulkner Lake Orchard in North Little Rock will host Peach Fest Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. featuring peaches from the orchard.

Holland Bottom Farm in Cabot recently began picking its peaches (earlier in the season the market sold peaches from Georgia).

Hudson Orchard in Greenbrier expects to have peaches ready around July 4.

Jamison Orchard in Nashville expects very limited peaches available in July.

Peach Pickin' Paradise in Lamar reported on its Facebook page the April 21 freeze wiped its entire crop.

Poppa Jac's Peaches in Searcy expects its crop to be ready in late June-early July.

Suzanne's Fruit Farm in Hampton (suzannesfruitfarm.com) has early Red Haven peaches ready for picking now with more varieties to come.

Taylor's Orchard in Gentry also reported on Facebook its peach crop was a total loss.

Vanzant Fruit Farms in Lowell reported it lost its entire crop to the freeze (but Georgia peaches are available in the shop).

Woody's Peach Orchard in Hampton expects peaches to be ready late June or early July.

Whether you pick them yourself or opt to let someone else do the hard work, there are few keys to enjoying summer fresh peaches.

◼️ When picking them yourself, if the peach doesn't release easily from the tree, it's not ready. If the peach is rock hard, it's not ready. If the skin is green, it's not ready.

◼️ Perfectly ripe peaches are yielding to the touch (don't squeeze too hard!) — softer than a tennis ball, but not squishy — and have a heady, peachy aroma. If it doesn't smell like a peach, it isn't going to taste like a peach. Skin color is not necessarily an indication of ripeness — only the side of the peach receiving sunlight develops a red blush — but mature, ripe peaches will have yellow, white or blush colored skin, not green.

◼️ To get firm peaches ready to eat, let them sit at room temperature for a few days. You can speed up the process slightly by placing them in a paper bag and loosely folding the top. However, any peach picked before it is mature will never sweeten and ripen, no matter how long you leave it in a paper bag.

◼️ Ripe, ready to eat peaches can be refrigerated, but temperatures below 45 degrees should be avoided. According to David Joachim and Andrew Schloss in "The Science of Good Food" it has to do with the pectin in the fruit's cell walls. As peaches and nectarines (the peach's smooth-skinned cousin) ripen, the pectin transforms and the fruit softens. Prolonged low temperatures interfere with this transformation.

The following recipes are some of our favorite ways to use fresh and frozen peaches.

[Video not showing above? Click here to watch: arkansasonline.com/623peachgalette]

Peach Galette

  • 1 unbaked pie crust, homemade or store-bought
  • 3 to 4 cups fresh or frozen sliced peaches, thawed slightly
  • Pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch (see note)
  • ¼ to ½ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
  • Vanilla ice cream, optional for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the pie dough out to a 12-inch circle and place in the center of the parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a large bowl, toss the peaches with salt, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch and up to ½ cup sugar. Using a slotted spoon, pile the peaches in the center of the pie crust, leaving a 1 ½ inch border. Carefully fold the naked crust over the fruit, pleating as you go. Brush the crust with the egg-cream mixture. Sprinkle the crust with sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes or until filling is bubbling, and the crust is golden brown. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serve slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

Note: The amount of cornstarch needed depends on how "juicy" the peaches are. Fresh peaches will require less cornstarch than frozen.

Peach Caprese (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Peach Caprese (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Peaches, tomatoes and mozzarella are a match made in heaven. Just try it. You'll see.

Peach Caprese

  • 2 peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 to 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella balls
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Fruity olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

On a large platter, arrange peaches, tomatoes and cheese. Scatter fresh basil leaves over top. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Makes 4 servings.

Blackened Barbecue Salmon With Peach Salsa (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Blackened Barbecue Salmon With Peach Salsa (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

The original version of this recipe uses mango, but we reach for peaches when they're in season.

Blackened Barbecue Salmon With Peach Salsa

  • Salsa:
  • 1 or 2 peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 ½ teaspoons silver tequila (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Salmon:
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large salmon filet(s)
  • Barbecue sauce of your choice
  • Lime Butter:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Grated zest of ¼ lime
  • Pinch coarse sea salt
  • Lime wedges, optional, for serving

To make the salsa: In a bowl, combine the peaches; onion; jalapeno pepper; cilantro; lime zest and juice; tequila, if using; and salt. Toss well. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

To make the barbecued salmon: Heat broiler to high and set the oven rack about 6 inches below it.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chile powder, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the salmon. Brush with the barbecue sauce.

Broil the salmon for 6 to 8 minutes, or until just opaque and flaky.

To make the lime butter:

In a bowl, stir together the butter, lime zest and salt until combined.

While the salmon is still hot, dot the lime butter over top and let it melt. Top with the salsa and serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe adapted from "The Pretty Dish" by Jessica Merchant

No-Churn Peach Sherbet (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
No-Churn Peach Sherbet (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

It doesn't get any easier than this two-ingredient peach sherbet.

No-Churn Peach Sherbet

  • 4 to 6 cups sliced peeled peaches (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Combine peaches and condensed milk in a blender and process until smooth. Pour mixture into a 8- or 9-inch loaf pan and freeze until scoopable, about 4 hours.

Makes about 1 quart.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

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