Celebrate the Peach in Myrtle Beach


Nothing says summer like a juicy peach. And while the Grand Strand is not known for producing peaches, it is well-known for sharing in the crop's bounty, whether in produce stores or at produce stands.

McBee Peaches

The Palmetto State ranks No. 2 nationally, just behind California, in the production of peaches, and grosses about $50 million annually. Much of that production comes from the small town of McBee, and when the crop ripens, you can see the smiles in South Carolina and beyond.

McLeod Farm

The 22 varieties of peaches grown on the McLeod's 650 acres are good to go starting in early June, depending on rain, wind and sunlight. That's also when the 40 workers at the farm -- many of them descendants of the farm's founders -- swell to more than 200. They pick, sort, separate retail from wholesale and handle special orders, including gift boxes, in much the same way their forefathers did 100 years ago.

Cling or Freestone

The earliest local peaches arrive in the Grand Strand as the cling variety. That means the fruit clings to the stone or pit. As the season progresses, the varieties become cling-free, easily pulling away from the pit. No matter the main type, checking for ripeness is easy. Fruit should be yellow with the traditional rosy fuzz promising increased sweetness. Hard peaches can ripen on your counter, but be careful not to let them spoil. Once they are ripe, you can refrigerate them.

Recipes

Peaches lend themselves well to becoming a sauce over ice cream, ice cream itself, in cobbler in pies or over chicken, pork or veal. Although a mild fruit, it stands up well as a base for other meat toppings, and you can't go wrong bringing a peach trifle to a picnic or dinner party.


A.E. Crone is a freelance writer living near Myrtle Beach, S.C. She has written and edited for a number of newspapers and magazines.