After talking with the three main orchards that supply Wolff’s peaches, three things are clear about this year’s peach season: the fruit is tasty, plentiful, and the whole season has been tracking ahead of schedule.
Phyllis Shenk works at Cherry Hill Orchards in Lancaster, PA, one of the three growers that supply Wolff’s with peaches. For Phyllis, who co-manages the outlet store with her son, this year marks her fortieth peach season, so she is well able to compare seasons. Compared to last year, she says, the peaches taste sweeter. Ed Weaver of Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown, PA–another of Wolff’s trusted growers– agrees. “With abundant sunshine,” he says, “the flavor and sweetness are very good.”
“It’s a high volume, high quality year,” adds Joe Nichols of Nichols Orchard in Franklinville, NJ, who has been supplying Wolff’s with peaches for many years.
Ed and Phyllis both noted how big this year’s fruit has grown. Phyllis weighed a Flamin’ Fury peach (a PF 24007, one of her favorites!) and it was 1.85 lbs, the largest she has ever seen.
If you’re the kind of peach connoisseur who can ask for best-loved varieties by name, here is what you are likely to find as of August 25:
- Flamin’ Fury
- Yellow Bounty
- Sugar Giant and Snow Giant (white peaches)
- Jersey Queen
- Red Skin
- Yellow Messina (“a very nice new variety similar to Flamin Fury,” says Ed Weaver)
- Autumn Star
- And more Laurol and Sugar Giants!
These varieties are all appearing earlier than usual, so be alert to watch for them early.
As you select your favorite peach variety from the display, be careful to preserve the fruit while choosing which ones to bag, urges Phyllis. “We’re used to shopping with our hands,” she says. But the more you touch fruit, the more it gets damaged, especially fruit as prone to bruising as a peach.
Instead of touching the produce, Phyllis recommends looking at the color. A ripe peach will be very yellow, not greenish yellow, and “the red is brilliant,” she says. If you purchase a peach that is greenish-yellow, wait a couple days. The peaches you get at Wolff’s will usually only take 24-48 hours to ripen, says Phyllis. Don’t put it in a paper bag, but leave it out on the counter instead. “You want to look at that peach,” she says.
And then, after looking at the peach and watching it ripen, it is finally time for a taste-test. This year, you will be amply rewarded. It’s a great peach season, and it’s slipping away fast, so be sure to swing by Wolff’s soon.