Another Summer Standout in Produce: Gunkel Peaches
My little family recently went on a vacation that took us as far north as the base of Mt. Baker and as far south as The Dalles overlooking the Columbia River. And while we drove east along I-84 past the Maryhill Museum of Art toward Goldendale, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop by the Gunkel Orchards fruit stand.
Every year, the arrival of Gunkel peaches and cherries is a hallmark of the summer season in our Produce Markets. Summer just isn’t summer if you haven’t had a chance to wipe your chin after delving into a sweet, juicy Gunkel peach! So how could I not drive down the winding path that leads through their orchards and stop in to see what they had for sale? They had plenty of fresh-sliced peach, apricots and more on hand for sampling, and it did not disappoint.
Of course, why make the drive to Maryhill when you can simply stroll into one of our markets? All this week, these Washington-grown gems are just $2.98 lb.
This third-generation farm, established in 1936 by Daniel Gunkel, offers tree-ripened apricots, peaches and nectarines – as well as cherries – throughout the summer. Daniel’s grandsons Dan and Ron now operate the family orchard and they set themselves apart from other producers by growing and shipping the most mature fruit possible. And that fruit is all hand-picked and placed into small buckets instead of large bins, which allows the fruit to mature to peak sugar levels.
And the fruit isn’t picked unless it’s ready; instead of gathering all the peaches at once, pickers only select fruit that’s perfectly ripe, returning for the rest later, even three or four times. It’s worth it to the Gunkels to ensure their customers get the most flavorful fruit possible.
Summer Peach Recipes
So what to do with all these delicious peaches? (Other than just taking big juicy bites out of hand. 😊)
Our Summer Fruit Chicken Salad is a simple-but-delicious way to blend together ripe peaches with the tender rotisserie Smart Chicken from our Delis. Throw in some ripe plums, nectarines and a little bit of honey-mustard dressing, and you’ve got a recipe that highlights sweet summer fruits with a healthy dose of air-chilled, high-quality protein.
Labor Day is coming up and I’m always looking for fresh ideas for the grill. How about grilling up some delicious dessert? Our Grilled Peaches with Snickerdoodles recipe comes together in a snap on an already-hot grill and is an interesting way to top off the cookout without getting too complicated.
If grilling isn’t your thing, try our Cantaloupe with Peach and Coconut recipe. It’s got kind of a fruity-desserty-salad vibe going on and takes advantage of all the juicy summer melons we have right now. Fun for those of you bakers and foodies out there who love to bust out their food processors.
Experience Our Own Fruit Tarts
While They’re in Season
Just because it isn’t the holiday season doesn’t mean our Bakeries don’t have anything tasty for summer. If you’ve got a balcony, a glass of chilled rosé and a sweet tooth, then you NEED to have a slice of Our Own Fruit Tarts, too.
“It just screams late spring and summer to me,” says Teri Kendrick, our Bakery Specialist. “So light and balanced, with a crisp crust and thin layers of chocolate. I mean, who wants a thick chocolate cake in the heat of summer? Not me.” Me, either, Teri, and, after tasting them for the first time this summer, I’m officially a convert.
These tarts might be considered a baked good, but they’re topped with the same high-quality fruits that are overflowing in our Produce Markets, which means they’re seasonally fresh like a Gunkel peach or Hayton Farms strawberry. Be sure to swing by this week and give ‘em a try before the season ends!
Our very own cheese whiz, Shauna Howell, offers up a cheese worth discovering.
Beemster Hatch Chile Pepper Dutch Cheese – This cheese arrives just in time to help us celebrate the beloved Hatch Chile season! It’s young, creamy and fully loaded with lots of flavorful Hatch chiles. Perfect for shredding in burritos, sprinkling over fresh tamales, or just to chunk up and enjoy with a cool IPA and some fresh summer tomatoes as you sit on the porch and watch summer go by.
Chris Allen is a copywriter and assistant marketer with Town & Country Markets. He’s a former contributing editor, radio anchor and producer, and an Air Force veteran. He’s also mastered the art of chopping red onions with one hand while sipping a dry Tempranillo in the other.