Travel the ridge region of the state in the spring, and all along the highways you will find yourself surrounded by rows of peach trees dressed in delicate pink flowers. They stand with arms lifted and ready to dance to the rites of spring, knowing they will be the honored guests at the celebration of the season.
Other states may wear the peach on its license plates and coffee mugs, but for generations farms such as Dixie Belle, Titan, McLeod and Big Smile have been quietly cultivating a commercial crop that has made South Carolina the second largest producer of peaches in the country, and the largest east of the Mississippi. Originating in China over 3,000 years ago, and first introduced to the state in the 1800’s, today, peaches are our signature summer crop, and South Carolina growers produce over double the volume of the state’s next-door neighbor.
With a sun-ripened South Carolina peach on our plate, we know that we will find the taste and texture of perfection. We can’t get enough. We love the flavor that reminds us of our grandmothers’ kitchens, we love the versatility that adapts them to our recipes, and we love the fresh breath of summertime that drips from our fingers when we bite into the down- covered fruit. As proud South Carolinians, we love them most of all because they are ours.
Adopted by the state legislature in 1984 as the state fruit, South Carolina is known as “The Tastier Peach State.” But then, we knew that all along.
About the Chef:
Meet Chef Forrest Parker, named 2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador for the Lowcountry, and Chef de Cuisine at The Vendue Inn’s Drawing Room. Few know more about the state of peaches than Chef Parker, celebrated for his work as an “agricultural archeologist,” rediscovering and reintroducing heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables to state growers. His unique historical perspective adds a unique sense of time and place to his menus. Drawing from the rich heritage of our culinary past, Parker brings us his recipes for South Carolina’s favorite summer fruit, created in homage to the seeds of the past.
Click below to see the recipes from Chef Forrest Parker: