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Sweet New Jersey Fruit Making Its Way To Stores, Farm Markets

For Immediate Release: July 8, 2004


Jeff Beach




(TRENTON) – Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today announced Jersey Fresh peaches are now in season and peach growers have begun harvesting.

The early large, yellow-flesh variety Sentry will begin arriving in stores after July 10, with volume expected by July 15. The early white variety White Lady peaches are expected around the third week of July, with volume by the end of the month.

“Jersey Fresh peaches can be picked, packed and shipped to major markets within a few hours’ time, guaranteeing the freshest peaches in our stores are from right here in our Garden State,” Secretary Kuperus said. “Peaches that can spend a longer time ripening on the tree and a shorter time in storage before reaching the consumer are sweeter, larger and have more color than those that have to be shipped from long distances. Looking for Jersey Fresh labels will assure you reach for a high-quality peach that is fresh from the Garden State.”

This year’s peach season is a few days ahead of normal, and nearly ten days ahead of last year’s late-arriving season, which was delayed due to cold, wet spring weather, growers said.

“New Jersey has a long history of peach production, dating back to the 1600s,” Secretary Kuperus said. “Whether eaten fresh out of the box or baked into pies, cobblers and other favorites, Jersey Fresh peaches are the perfect way to keep eating nutritious, delicious fruit right through the summer and into the fall.”

In 2003, New Jersey’s peach farmers produced about 60 million pounds of peaches on 8,000 acres, making the state the fourth-largest producer of peaches in the nation. A wide variety of the fruit is grown locally, from the early-season Sentry and Red Haven, to the Loring, Flamin’ Fury and Bounty, and at the season’s height, Cresthaven, Jerseyqueen and Encore. Some New Jersey farmers are also growing the “flat” or “doughnut” peach. The pit of these peaches can be pressed out with the thumb, leaving a doughnut-shaped fruit with a hole in the middle.

The Department offered the following tips for selecting and keeping peaches:

- Mature peaches are intensely fragrant, with a golden or cream undertone and yield to palm pressure;
- An overripe peach will display shriveling at the stem or excessive soft spots;
- Peaches are best kept at room temperature, but may need refrigeration to avoid spoiling if kept for some time;
- When ripe, peaches should be kept in a refrigerator for no more than five days;
- Never put an unripe peach in the refrigerator, as it will not achieve optimum flavor and have a mealy texture.

Following is a recipe using peaches from Jersey Fresh Cooks, a cookbook available at local farm markets. The recipe was submitted by Suzanna M. Patishnock of Piscataway.

Peach Melba Bread Pudding

4 cups good quality white bread cubes, crusts removed
2 cups Jersey Fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
½ cup raisins
1 ½ cups half-and-half
¼ cup orange juice
5 Jersey Fresh eggs, beaten until thick and lemon-colored
½ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup seedless raspberry preserves

In a buttered 2-quart casserole, arrange bread cubes and raisins to cover the bottom of the dish. Mix the rest of the ingredients, except raspberry preserves. Pour over bread cubes. Bake 45-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted in center. Heat raspberry preserves, drizzle on top of the pudding. Serve warm. Serves 8.

For the location of farm markets or other information on Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/.