My steadfast peach informant, Jerry Cohen of Glen Cove, called to tell me that the peaches from McBee, South Carolina, were for sale at North Shore Farms. Cohen grew up in western North Carolina and firmly believes that the McBee peaches are the best in the world.
They are awfully good.
Now Cohen warned me that these are clingstones, not freestones. And here I offer my annual exegesis: All stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc.) come in both clingstone and freestone iterations. While freestones are more desirable, farmers grow clingstones as well because they start to ripen earlier in the season, while freestones don't come in until later.
I spoke to the produce manager at Port Washington’s North Shore Farms, Yannis Ioannou, and he expects to have the McBee peaches through July. I bought them last week at $.99/pound; last night they were $1.49/ pound. Ioannou said that “produce is like the stock market, the price can change daily.” He does not expect the price to dip below $.99 nor soar above $2. Each McBee wears a little blue-and-white sticker which reads “McBee USA / 4403 Mac's Pride.“
Unlike Cohen, Ioannou is partial to Georgia peaches, which he expects in the next few weeks. “They’re bigger and sweeter and they’re freestones,” he said.
And here I offer my annual advice on cutting freestone peaches, courtesy of Cohen: The stem end of the peach has a little groove in it, dividing the fruit into two cheeks. Instead of cutting with the groove, cut across it — that is, perpendicular to it — and continue all the way around the peach. The two halves will neatly fall away.
North Shore Farms has stores in Commack, Glen Cove, Great Neck, Mineola and Port Washington.