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Peaches ripe later due to more rain, less sunshine

Late fruit season leads to sweeter taste

POSTED: August 7, 2013 1:00 a.m.

John Zelek and his sister-in-law, Jo Literal, combed the Hall County Farmers Market on a recent Tuesday morning for fresh peaches.

Zelek, of Flowery Branch, said he and Literal were going to make a special treat for his wife who’d been recently released from the hospital after having surgery.

“Her request was a fresh peach cobbler,” Literal said. “So I flew down from Indianapolis to make her a fresh peach cobbler. I’ve never made one before, so it will be fun.”

Zelek noticed the peach-packed booth of Phillip Echols, manager and owner of Echols’ Hilltop Orchard in Alto.

Echols said he grows a variety of peaches, including Loring, Georgia Belle and Elberta on his 16-acre farm and expects the season, which was delayed by three weeks, to last another six weeks.

“There’s been a lot of rain on them and not a lot of sunshine,” Echols said. “They’re getting sweeter and better, they’re improving.”

For Echols, “there’s nothing better” than eating a fresh peach right off the tree, a pleasure he’s enjoyed since childhood.

“I grew up on a peach farm,” Echols said. “My granddaddy loved peaches.”

What Echols and his family don’t eat fresh from the tree, they often freeze to eat after the season has passed.

Whether eaten fresh, frozen, preserved or prepared, peaches are a healthy, locally grown treat.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one half cup of peaches, or one small peach, has about 30 calories. Peaches also provide about 10 percent of a recommended daily amount of vitamin C.

Leslie Davis, the bariatric program dietician for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said peaches are a good source of vitamins A and C and have two to three grams of fiber, mostly in the peach skin.

Davis recommends adding the fruit to dishes such as yogurt or cereal to increase the overall nutritional value.

“Definitely there is a lot of nutrition in the peaches themselves,” Davis said. “It would add nutritional value and, of course, you could use frozen yogurt or angle food cake, something lower in fat if you wanted to use an alternative.”

Davis said baking a peach-centered desert, such as cobbler, might not be the lowest calorie or fat option, but the peaches are still nutritional.

Zelek asked Echols about the varieties of peaches he was selling and bought a bag of sweet Loring peaches.

“This will hopefully make a peach cobbler,” Zelek said holding up the bag of peaches. “I was asking him how sweet they are and he said they’re pretty sweet.”

“... but we’ve got sugar,” Literal added with a smile.


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