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Eat a Peach

Masumoto Farms, Adopt a Peach, Melissa's Produce grower tour

One would never suspect that a morning of picking peaches at Masumoto Family Farm would be where sweat, spirituality, and sensuality culminate in a cloud of fine dust for a mind-blowing experience that leaves you begging for more… take me Elberta, I can’t live another year without LeGrand. We’re not talking’ the big “O” here – this is a food blog! We’re talking peaches and nectarines – heirloom  organic peaches and nectarines. The queen of all peaches, Elberta, and mistress of nectarines, LeGrand. As David Mas Masumoto describes these priceless heirlooms: Elberta peaches have a deep, rich flavor that you take home to meet your parents and LeGrand nectarines have a wild sexy taste that tempts you into an affair. Both are crazy juicy golden beauties with a crimson blush and unforgettable flavor.

Elberta peaches are buttery and smooth with a bright yellow flesh and golden skin when ripe – a wonderful old heirloom peach whose name stirs memories of backyard family trees and peaches you enjoyed as a child on blistering summer days. LeGrand nectarines have been called the “granddaddy of nectarines” – their luscious flavor combines a perfect balance of high acidity and high sugar. Both have people: consumers, local and visiting families, chefs, and food enthusiast, flocking to Del Rey in the San Joaquin Valley of central California in the heat of July  to experience the great Mas Masumoto Adopt-a-Tree peach harvest.

Who knew that a Saturday spent in an orchard in California’s Central Valley would move me to quietly reflect upon long-forgotten childhood memories of summer days spent toiling in our family’s garden?

While I mulled over the impact the weekend had on me and what I had learned about heirloom peaches and their cultivation, I knew after reading just one chapter of Masumoto’s memoir, Epitaph for a Peach, that the story of his struggle to save his beloved Sun Crest peaches, an heirloom peach known for its sweet juiciness, but rejected by the mass market due to its color and short shelf life, deserved an heirloom recipe.

heirloom peach, Elberta peach

Memories of summer days spent in sticky humidity under the blazing sun, grumbling under our breath so the old man wouldn’t hear, as we did our required two hours of tortured servitude. Our garden was not some glorified hobby – we were poor and it is what fed our family; along with the goats, chickens, and hogs that we raised and woke up at 6:00 a.m. to feed and milk every day before school, and the side of beef that we bought from the local slaughterhouse each year and stored in the giant deep freezer at my grandmother’s house down the hill.

Masumoto Farms, Adopt a Peach, Melissa's Produce grower tour

After hearing Mas recite his lyrical poem entitled “Sweat” to the folks gathered before him on that fine, blessedly cloudy and breezy Saturday morning, excited about the second harvest of peaches and nectarines from their adopted trees; I can understand and appreciate my experience from a whole new perspective.

peach cobbler, peach crumble, peach crisp

A third generation farmer and author of four books, David Mas Masumoto grows peaches, nectarines, grapes, and raisins on his 80-acre organic farm with his wife Marcy, daughter Nikiko, and son Korio. Mas writes because he feels their story and the emotion and physical nature of farming is best told through story and art. He and his family approach their work as artisans do, and they are  constantly seeking new and creative ways of sharing their stories and knowledge of the land.  The Masumotos have created an annual ritual of linking people to their farm through a Peach Adoption Program a novel approach to ”consumer education” that “dissolves the boundaries between farmer, eater, the land, and community”. If you would like a taste of these juicy treasures, you can adopt either an Elberta or LeGrand and if you’re hungry enough (or have hungry friends) you can adopt both. If the weather and nature cooperates, each tree should have between 350-450 pounds of these peach and/or nectarine gems!

Masumoto Farms, Melissa's Produce grower tour, Adopt a Peach Tree Program

If our father had been a farmer, a writer,and a poet as Masumoto is, maybe my sisters and brothers and I would have seen our farm experience in a rosier light, but somehow I doubt that it would have made a difference. My dad was a high school teacher, proud of being a strict disciplinarian – at home and at work, and although he is a writer (with more of a journalistic bent), he didn’t have a lyrical bone in his body in those days and wasn’t big on sharing his innermost feelings. I know now that he had a passion for the land even then as he still farms to this day, on a much smaller scale of course, waking with dawn’s early light to tend his organic lettuces, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and peppers.

David Mas Masumoto and me

Many thanks to Melissa’s Produce for inviting me, Nancy (A Communal Table), Louise (Geez Louise!), Dorothy (Shockingly Delicious) and Gisele (Small Pleasures Catering) on an inspiring journey into the fields of Masumoto Family Farms and two other growers (coming soon, along with more peach, nectarine, and plum recipes!) You can order fresh, organic Masumoto Farms peaches from Melissa’s through the end of August, shipped directly to you!

Masumoto Farms, Melissa's Produce grower tour

Now about that heirloom recipe:

peach cobbler, peach crisp, peach crumble

peach cobbler, peach crisp, peach crumble

Masumoto Farms, Adopt a Peach, Melissa's Produce grower tour

Moving first to Hermosa Beach, then residing in the bedroom communities of greater Los Angeles for the past, mmm, two decades +/-,  and now rejoicing at our return to kickin’ it at the beach, those days “back on the farm” seem like someone else’s life. I chose the title Eat a Peach because, much like the defining Southern Rock songs of The Allman Brothers Band “Eat A Peach” album are forever imprinted in my mind (gems like ”Blue Sky,” “Ain’t Wasting Time No More,” the ballad “Melissa” – who’s with me here?!) – this day will live on in my heart and soul.

 

Disclosure: Transportation, lodging and meals for this trip were paid for by Melissa’s Produce. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

 

 

 

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26 Responses to “Eat a Peach”

  1. Daniele Holmberg
    August 10 at 7:19 am #

    Great story! I look forward to ttying out that recipe too! What a great summer idea:-)

    • Priscilla
      August 10 at 7:38 am #

      Thanks Danielle – it was truly a memorable day! I know you and Tom will like it – let me know how it turns out 😍 #eatapeach

  2. Victoria
    August 10 at 7:41 am #

    Wow, what a great experience!! Loved learning about those peaches and nectarines, they really sounds amazing! Your peach cobbler is the perfect vessel for a hard day’s work picking peaches :)

    • Priscilla
      August 10 at 8:17 am #

      Lol, and it’s what’s for breakfast! Last one… sooo good :)

  3. Laura @ Family Spice
    August 10 at 7:47 am #

    Oh how beautiful! What a wonderful story, Priscilla. Every time I visit a farm, ranch or orchard I feel content with life and true inner peace. My family could eat mass quantities of peaches and other fruits, too. Maybe we should adopt a tree???

    • Priscilla
      August 10 at 8:11 am #

      Thank you, Laura. Let’s do it! Get a group of OC and San Diego bloggers and share a tree :) #roadtrip #eatapeach

  4. Monet
    August 10 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Priscilla. The way you talked about this experience and those gorgeous peaches was so lovely. I don’t know what is better than a freshly picked peach (besides a bowl of this heirloom cobbler…)

    • Priscilla
      August 10 at 8:13 am #

      Hi Monet. Thanks for your kind words – that means a lot coming from a master baker such as yourself!

  5. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
    August 10 at 7:57 am #

    What a great day. Wonderfully written post about it as well. I love fresh peaches, but these sound even more amazing. The cobbler you made with it sounds incredible as well!

    • Priscilla
      August 10 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Erin – honestly, I have never had a peach or nectarine that tasted as good as these! I challenge anyone to bring me a better one :)

  6. Kenny Kataoka
    August 10 at 9:14 am #

    Hi Priscilla,

    Great romance article about Masumoto Peaches. I have a new insight regarding professional foodie’s like yourself.

    Thanks, Kenny

  7. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious
    August 10 at 11:20 am #

    What a fantastic experience! I received a huge bounty from my peach tree this year and was lucky enough to scoop some great recipes!
    Take care

    • Priscilla
      August 10 at 4:36 pm #

      You have a peach tree in Long Beach?! I’m coming over – and I’m going to check out what peachy goodness you’re making!

  8. Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    August 10 at 1:51 pm #

    What a fun day at the farm, those peaches are pristine! You know I’m a peach cobbler fan – these look fantastic! :)

  9. Lisa
    August 11 at 12:02 am #

    I just ate 3 peaches yesterday, sliced up with honey. However, what I would have given for any of those 3 to be right off the tree from Masumoto Farm! I would like to Adopt an Orchard, please! Fantastic story, Priscilla, and the cobbler looks terrific!

  10. sippitysup
    August 11 at 7:08 am #

    Sweet sunshine. What a juicy day! GREG

  11. Geez Louise!
    August 11 at 9:59 am #

    Priscilla, what a lucky girl I am to be in such good company of talented food loving friends. This is great food writing, beautifully done with such a creative spin of words. So sad all my fruit is gone :( . I did find your comment in some weird spam folder???

  12. Nancy/SpicieFoodie
    August 12 at 1:22 pm #

    Hi Priscilla,
    Now I seriously want to munch one a peach and nectarine. What a lovely article and memories. The cobbler looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing your experience:)

  13. Lentil Breakdown
    August 13 at 7:44 pm #

    This post was so great—everything about it! And I like those old Allman Brothers songs too. : )

  14. Cathy/ShowFoodChef
    August 15 at 1:57 pm #

    Loved the writing, the story, the pics and the recipe. Sounds like an inspiring day.

  15. Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking
    August 16 at 6:17 am #

    what a wonderful experience Priscilla! I grew up on a farm and I miss it every summer, being able to just step outside and pick my own fruit and veggies.

  16. Terra
    August 16 at 7:18 pm #

    What a fun experience, I love finding wonderful orchards! Thank you for sharing! Your peach cobbler looks beyond delicious:-) Hugs, Terra

  17. Gisele aka LA2LAChef
    August 16 at 10:16 pm #

    Hey- I LOVE peach cobbler for breakfast- as well as desert and snack.

    Good to share the peach picking expedition with you.

    G.

  18. Patty
    August 19 at 8:58 am #

    Fabulous reportage! I love the shots of you in the orchard, very authentic and sweet;-)
    You’ve inspired me to make a peach cobbler, I think it’s just a perfect Summer dessert!

  19. Jean (Lemons and Anchovies)
    August 19 at 11:23 am #

    I haven’t enjoyed peaches as much as I should this season–I’ve been missing out but what a treat for you to have been able to pay a visit to Masumoto Farm. Love the pictures and I’m saving this recipe. :)

  20. Oakley
    August 20 at 8:33 pm #

    Looks like fun! The picture are so great I can smell the peaches. :)

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