What's in Season

A Real Peach

You won’t find this gem at the supermarket, but a little searching will bear fruit

Illustration: John Burgoyne

Come summer in the South, finding a fresh peach isn’t much of a chore. There are a bushelful of varieties grown in Georgia and South Carolina alone. But one in particular is coveted by chefs and foodies: the red-fleshed Indian Blood Peach. “This is the peach all the in-the-know farmers’ market junkies will be looking for in June and July,” says Chris Hastings, chef and co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. What separates this peach from its fuzzy brethren is that when fully ripe, the Blood has a firm texture and is sweet yet slightly tart. Hastings considers it the single best peach for canning, pickling, and making chutney (though sinking your teeth right into the red-marbled flesh isn’t out of the question either). But first, of course, you have to locate some. “The key is to ask the oldest person selling peaches you can find, and if they don’t have them, they almost always know someone who has a tree on a corner of their yard and will bring a basket to you the following week,” Hastings says. “It’s very inside baseball, but well worth the effort.”

The Farmers’ Market Cheat Sheet

Squash Blossoms
For a brief six-week period from early June through mid-July, these edible flowers show up at farmers’ markets throughout the South. Subtle in flavor, they’re often described as tasting like squash-scented perfume. Or, simply, sweet air. They can be stuffed with cheese and baked, roasted and mixed into a risotto, or, in true Southern fashion, breaded and fried. Male blossoms will hold up in the refrigerator for a few days, though the more delicate females should be eaten ASAP. Doubtful you’ll be able to wait that long.

Young Green Beans
They go by different names: tender green beans, haricots verts, or sometimes just plain green beans. But all you need to know is that the first green beans of the season are easily the best. Look for beans less than four inches long. They can be briefly blanched and added to a salad of assorted local vegetables, but even that minimal prep isn’t necessary. Sweet and succulent, these beans are perfect for munching raw.