I believe that the road less taken is a much tastier highway than an eight-lane lane interstate.
So, choosing a route for summer travels up to the Bay Area or the CA gold Country east of Sacramento often take me off I-5 and lead me on my search for f “the perfect peach.”
The Perfect Peach is like a quest for the Holy Grail. In the last ten years, i’ve stopped at a lot farm stands in California’s heartland and sampled a lot of peaches.
Over the last two decades California stone fruit orchardists have developed several artisanal clings and freestone hybrid peaches. I like juicy monster fruit that weighs a pound, or more. and which are best eaten in parking lots that have a nearby water faucet.
I’ve found several farm stands that sell memorable peaches.
My favorite peach connection is Fisher Farm on Highway 120 between Manteca and Ripon CA.
The owners may not have aisle after aisle of produce, but what they do have is grown for flavor and only picked when its ripe. So when I’m scooting up and down I-5 nearing Stockton, CA, I take an easterly heading and zip over to Ripon to buy a box of peaches or equally tasty nectarines and heirloom tomatoes.
Fisher Farns is just one of several fruit stands on the 120 highway heading east toward Yosemite. One of the many things about the Fisher Farm operation is its owner orchardists willingness to share information on how to grow great California. If this stand sold rootstock, I’d stump my Desert Gold peach tree and a struggling avocado in my front yard and replace them with their trees.
There are two other farm stands further nprth that call my name when i’m driving in the area. They are Mana Ranch in Esparto CA north of the outlet malls on I-80 http://www.manasranch.com and Hooverville Orchard on the ouskirts of Placerville,CA, www.hoovervilleorchards.com
Mana Ranch is very high on my private list of favorite farm stand peach suppliers because it sells great quality graded peaches, nectarines as well as seasonal vegetables.
Hooverville Orchards is on my list because of its fruit and vegetable selection and because of its ambience. Hooverville is an ideal place to buy fruit, sit under a tree, smell the trees and get very sticky faced chomping away on stone fruit. Like Fisher Farm, the Hooverville orchard owners are happy to talk to you about how to grow great stone fruit.
So take a break, get off the interstate and seek out Central Valley fruit stands. you’ll know I’ve been there by the trail of cracked pistachio shells by the side of the road.--jim Forbes on July 9, 2014.