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Texas Hill Country peaches prized for flavor

The Texas Hill Country is known for its sweet peaches, and you can buy them at several peach stands in the area.

As iconic as Texas Hill Country peaches are, it might come as a surprise that the peach tree is not native to the Lone Star State — or even Georgia, officially known as the Peach State. Peach trees are believed to have originated in China then spread around the world along trade routes. The trees made their way to Texas in about 1846 courtesy of German settlers.

Peaches are the leading deciduous fruit crop in Texas, and roughly one-third of the state’s peaches come from Gillespie County, home to Fredericksburg and Stonewall.

Peach trees are somewhat high-maintenance. The trees require pruning and thinning, just the right amount of cold and hot temperatures, a good amount of water and weed control, protection from insects and diseases, and a nice supply of nitrogen. The lifespan of a peach tree is about 12 years, although evidence exists of trees surviving and producing to the ripe old age of 30 years or more.

Stonewall, located in southeastern Gillespie County, touts the “sweetest peaches in Texas.” The town celebrates its peach season each year with the Stonewall Peach JAMboree and Rodeo. The 2020 Peach JAMboree is happening as planned June 18-20 and features a rodeo, a dance with live music, a parade, baking, preserves, and salsa contests, a peach show, and a peach pit-spitting competition.

HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT PEACH

While it’s the bright red blush that draws the eye, the indication of a perfectly ripened peach is the overall “background” color, which should be a nice warm yellow, according to the Hill Country Fruit Council.

Peaches in the “soft-ripe” stage are great for eating and making ice cream or jam. A “firm-ripe” peach is best for canning, freezing, or saving for later. Peaches will ripen if kept at room temperature until soft enough to eat. Peaches should only be refrigerated after they are ripe.

All peaches are either freestone or clingstone, which indicate whether the flesh of the peach clings to the pit or pulls away easily. The flesh of freestone varieties pull away from the pit easily, whereas the flesh of clingstone varieties adhere to the pit.

Fredericksburg-Stonewall peaches are grown in soils teeming with minerals and micronutrients. The exceptional flavor of peaches grown in the area is due, in part, to the diurnal (day-to-night) temperature variation in the region.

During the season, which runs mid-May through early August, the best places to purchase Texas Hill Country peaches are local stands:

Wahl’s Peaches

15369 US 290 East

Stonewall

(951) 970-0311

Open 10 AM-4 PM

Pick your own organically grown peaches or buy them from the stand along with jams and peach salsa.

Burg’s Corner

15194 US 290 East

Stonewall

(800) 694-2772 or (830) 644-2604

Open daily 9 AM-6 PM

Retail site of Jimmy Duecker Orchards, established in 1948. Fresh peaches and peach products.

Gold Orchards Inc.

14329 US 290 East

Stonewall

(830) 644-2890

Open daily 9 AM-6 PM

Established in 1940, it sells peaches, peach ice cream, pies, peach butter, jelly, cobblers, and preserves.

Vogel Orchard

12862 US 290 East

Stonewall

(830) 644-2404

Open daily 8:30 AM-6 PM

Established in 1953, it sells 20 varieties of peaches, jellies, preserves, ice cream, cobbler, peach butter, and more.

Engel Orchard

9885 US 290 East

(830) 990-5064

Blumenthal

Open daily during peach season

Studebaker Farms

9405 US 290 East

Fredericksburg

(830) 990-1109

Open daily 9 AM-6 PM

Home of the Sweet Loriann, unique to Studebaker Farms. Also includes about 20 other varieties.

Jenschke Orchards

8301 US 290 East

Fredericksburg

(830) 997-8422

Open daily 10 AM-6 PM

Pick-your-own option available. Bed-and-breakfast, peaches, ice cream, canned items, and fruits/veggies. Established in 1961. Orchard grows 26 varieties and over 5,000 trees.

Behrends Orchard and Peach Stand

4579 US 290 East

Fredericksburg

(830) 997-4420

Sells peaches, jams, jellies, and homemade ice cream.

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