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North Carolina peaches kick off summer season

Summer is upon us and fresh North Carolina peaches are already available at farmers markets and roadside stands across the state. While not a bumper crop, local growers do expect to have plenty of peaches through Labor Day.

“North Carolina grows more than two dozen varieties of peaches,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Growers are harvesting clingstone peaches now and will begin harvesting freestone varieties later this month. No matter which you prefer, peach lovers should be able to find plenty of peaches this summer.”

Most of the peaches grown in North Carolina are sold directly to consumers at peach orchards, roadside stands and farmers markets. “North Carolina peaches are tree-ripened when harvested, giving them a fresher and sweeter taste than store-bought peaches,” states a press release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “While the majority of peaches are grown in the Sandhills, consumers can find peach orchards in about two-thirds of the state’s counties.”

This year, growers are taking special precautions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many roadside stands have required employees to wear protective gear such as masks and gloves. In addition, many growers have installed protective plastic shields at their registers to protect consumers.

To find an N.C. peach orchard, go to www.buyncpeaches.com.

Try North Carolina peaches in this ice cream recipe from Got To Be NC:

Cook time: prep time, 30 minutes; total time, 1 hour and 30 minutes
North Carolina ingredients: peaches, dairy

Ingredients
Peach Ice Cream:

3 cups peach pulp

Ice and ice cream/rock salt

2 quarts milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 pint whipping cream

2 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon almond flavoring

4 eggs, slightly beaten

Quick and Easy Vanilla Ice Cream Option:

2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

1 quart half and half

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Peach Ice Cream:

To the peach pulp, add the lemon juice and one cup of the sugar. Let stand one hour.

Add the other cup of sugar and salt to the beaten eggs. Then blend in half of the milk. Cook the sugar, egg and milk mixture over boiling water to create thick custard. Cool.

Add the remainder of milk, the cream that has been partially whipped, the flavoring and sweetened peach pulp.

Freeze using one part salt to six parts ice. Recipe makes one gallon of ice cream.

Quick and Easy Vanilla Ice Cream Option:

Here is a basic ice cream recipe that is a little quicker and easier if you don’t have time to make the rich and creamy recipe above. Add fruit at the end of the process and make whatever flavor is in season.

Stir together, mixing well. Pour into freezer can and add milk to bring to fill line. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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