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Fresh peaches and cream may sound like a dream in today’s world, but both are available at several farms in the region. The Upper East Side of Texas is home to many orchards and creameries that offer wholesome ingredients to satisfy cravings for delicious summer desserts.

This summer, make plans to visit some of the region’s independent farms or farmers’ markets for a selection of healthy fruits and fresh dairy products. From general stores to you-pick orchards, each offers its own unique treasures worth a trip over the county line.

Fresh cream

For those who don’t own a cow, the best way to get fresh cream is to buy it from a local dairy farm. Smaller dairies allow their cows to graze freely on fresh grass, which helps them produce milk products high in butter fat, protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

Some small dairies work hard to create fresh, great tasting milk and cream. Waldo Way Farms in Mineola, for example, harvests milk from Golden Guernsey dairy cows. The sweet, creamy milk is rich in nutrients that may prevent diabetes and heart disease: Beta Carotene, Omega 3 acids, and A2 protein casein. More importantly, though, farm fresh milk and cream taste sweet and delicious, and provide ideal ingredients for summer desserts.

Fresh peaches

Peaches add nutrition and distinct flavor to many dishes — from desserts and preserves to relishes and chutneys. Sweet concoctions often combine two or more cups of peaches with sugar or other sweeteners. They also complement savory pork and poultry dishes.

The sweet, tangy fruit is also popular in drinks. Peach nectar adds pizzazz to juices and cocktails like peach margaritas. Peach wine is also growing in popularity.

Peach trees originated in China and came to the Americas with Spanish explorers in the 15th century. Today, many peach varieties are available nationwide.

For culinary purposes, the main types of peaches are Freestone and Clingstone. Freestone describes the type of peach that falls free of the pit. Freestone are larger and less juicy, with more yellow color. Cling peaches remain attached to the stone, and are more difficult to prepare at home.

Cooks often prefer Freestone peaches for baking, as they’re easier to cut and slice; however, cling peaches, which are juicier and sweeter, for canning or preserves. When preparing dishes at home, look for semi-clingstone peaches if Freestones are not in season.

Ripe peaches are slightly soft and noticeably fragrant, but they’re not available in all markets. Fruits for sale at large grocers are often picked before they ripen. These prematurely-picked fruits have less taste and fewer vitamins.

Peaches allowed to ripen on the tree taste sweeter and more flavorful. Shopping for peaches at local farms — or picking them yourself — ensures the best flavor and nutrients.

Best bets

Though orchards all over the country grow peaches, some towns in our region have special associations with peaches.

Pittsburg, Texas, is home to two large farms that specialize in peaches and other seasonal produce. Pittsburg is not the original home of Pittsburg peaches, although the town could vie for the title.

McPeak Orchards sells produce from its store in Pittsburg and an outdoor stand in Gladewater. Both offer a range of fresh produce, jellies, and preserves. Peach ice cream is a favorite at the Pittsburg store.

Efurd Orchards is another family-owned farm that offers a variety of produce. Visitors shop their fresh summer peaches, but also delight in the store’s range of specialty products and gifts.

Fairfield, Texas, hosts the Fuzzy Peach Festival in July and a farmers’ market. Fairfield is the seat of Freestone County — named for the quality of its soils, not the peaches — but is home to Cooper Farms, one of the region’s largest peach growers with a 300-acre orchard.

Cooper Farms also operates a general store and fruit stands in Huntsville, Conroe, and Waco. Everything peach is available at their little convenience store and gas station in Fairfield — from peach ice cream to peach bread, plus dozens more peachy items.

Here’s a list of dairies and peach orchards in the Upper East Side of Texas.

Dairies

Bo-Tex Dairy, 4801 FM 877 Waxahachie, Texas 75165, (972) 743-7490. Sells Grade A Raw Milk and cream from free-range cows.

Full Quiver Farms, 6238 FM 3396 Kemp, Texas 75143, (903) 498-3884, www.fullquiverfarmtx.com. Fresh Grade A Raw milk, cream, and yogurt and handmade artisan cheese.

N&P Farm & Dairy LLC, 713 CR 610 Farmersville, Texas 75442, (972) 658-0291. Licensed Grade A Raw Dairy; offers cow and goat milk, yogurt, cream, eggs, and a variety of meats and vegetables.

The Waldo Way Dairy Farm, Grocery stores in Mineola and Lindale, (903) 245-9673, www.thewaldoway.com. Raw A2 milk, cream, butter, yogurt, and baked goods.

Peach Orchards

Cooper Farms, 301 I-45 Fairfield, Texas 75840, (903) 389-5500, www.cooperpeaches.com. Sells fresh peaches and more than 40 items made from them.

Efurd Orchards, 4004 South Hwy 271, Pittsburg, Texas 75686, (903) 856-2253, www.efurdorchard.com. A shopper’s paradise for fresh produce fans with many gift items.

Ham Orchards, 11939 County Road 309, Terrell, Texas 75161, (972) 524-2028, www.hamorchard.com. Peaches are their specialty, but the market offers a variety of foods from local farms.

Jenkins Farms Peach Orchard, 269 CR 1600 Ravenna, Texas 75476 (check Facebook for detailed directions), (903) 583-2220. Several varieties of pick-your-own peaches; purchase by the pound.

McPeak Orchards, 10939 U.S. 271 North, Pittsburg, TX 75686, (903) 762-6477, and 1004 East Broadway Ave., Gladewater, TX 75647, (903) 374-2407, www.mcpeakorchards.com. Open year-round, offering seasonal fruits, vegetables, and specialty items.

Panola Orchard and Gardens, 1413 FM-1186 De Berry, Texas 75639, (903) 766-2440, www.panolaorchard.com. Sells a variety of fruits and vegetables, including fresh peaches.

The Peach Orchard at Lake Fork, 992 Spur 514 Yantis, Texas 75497, (512) 964-9206. Several varieties of peaches; ripened on the tree for best flavor; you-pick available. 

Peaches and Cream Pie

¾ cup sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

2 cups sliced or frozen peaches

1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix sugar and flour and sprinkle 1/3 into the pie shell. Add fruit and rest of the sugar/flour mix. Pour cream over all. Move peaches around with a fork so cream completely covers peaches. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

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