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Despite cold spring, Hill Country peaches filling roadside stands

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

It’s only getting harder to grow peaches in the Hill Country, but more than a dozen growers are carrying on the longstanding agricultural tradition, despite drought, land prices and consistently inconsistent growing conditions.

I was in Marfa for a wedding over the weekend (more on that later), but on the way back to Central Texas on Sunday, I drove through Fredericksburg and was delighted to see that almost every roadside stand along U.S. 290 was open and selling peaches and other seasonal produce. This winter provided plenty of chilling hours for the trees, and a hard freeze in early March and a late hail storm a few weeks ago didn’t follow through on their threats to wipe out this year’s crop.

I stopped at Engel Orchards to buy my requisite basket of golden glories and found out that this is the first time in several years that they’ve had enough peaches to properly open their stand.

I bought a small basket of peaches for $5, which felt like a steal, but how did they taste? Maybe it was the happiness that comes when living nostalgia in the present tense, but they were absolutely divine.

The first peaches of the season are always a little on the small side, but I’m glad I was standing outside when I ate one because I was covered in peach juice by the time it was over.

Peaches should be available at roadside stands and local farmers markets for the next month or two, and in their honor, we’ll be running lots of peach recipes in upcoming food sections. What do you like to make with Hill Country peaches?