Pick-Your-Own Peaches

Peach Picking at Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Md.

Reema Wahbi, 5, of Alexandria samples a peach. Below, Letitia Sabau of Laurel reaches for a peach, while Costel Cret holds the box with their bounty.
Reema Wahbi, 5, of Alexandria samples a peach. Below, Letitia Sabau of Laurel reaches for a peach, while Costel Cret holds the box with their bounty. (Photos By Susan Biddle For The Washington Post)
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Friday, August 14, 2009

September is all about apples. October is all about pumpkins. August? Well, this month is all about peaches.

Their color is reminiscent of a late summer sunset with bright yellow giving way to warm oranges and dark reds. Plus, the slightest nibble of a fresh, ripe peach sends streams of cool, refreshing nectar down your chin.

Although peaches are available nearly year-round at your neighborhood grocery store, August is when true peach lovers head to pick-your-own farms to select the freshest fruit right off the branch.

Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Md., is just one such place that attracts peach connoisseurs. The children of the original owner now run the picturesque farm, which stretches across 285 acres of rolling hills and features -- you guessed it -- a big, red barn. Right now there are countless rows of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, sweet onions, leeks and flowers begging to be picked, but it is the 14 acres dedicated to peach trees that draw the biggest crowds this time of year.

The place is so popular that even on a recent weekday morning about a dozen people were lined up, ready to gather peaches as soon as the fields opened. Rosanne Ferris of Olney recently visited Larriland to take a bucolic drive, to support a local farm and, of course, to pick fresh peaches. But, perhaps most notably, peaches remind her of her daughter's birthday: Ferris had been making a peach pie right before her daughter was born.

This year Ferris and other pickers have had an easy time harvesting the fruit. According to Lynn Moore, the president of the farm, the weather (heavy, consistent rains in the spring and warm, dry days in the summer) has been almost ideal for creating plump, juicy peaches.

With a small tug, a fist-size peach comes easily off low-hanging branches. Pickers are encouraged to harvest peaches that are firm and take them home to finish ripening. It takes less than an hour for one person to pick 10 pounds; the farm provides boxes.

Wear comfortable shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. (Some peaches wind up mushy and underfoot.) After picking, be sure to visit the barn, which offers cold drinks, preserves and pre-picked items from the rest of the farm.

Go soon, because, like the last long weekends of summer, the peach season is fleeting. Moore says that August is the prime time for harvesting the delicious fruit, but they will be around for picking until mid-September.

"All this stuff only comes around for a short while," she says. "So if you eat peaches three times a day it is not a problem -- it is a good thing."

-- Amy Orndorff

WHEN IS IT OPEN? During August, Larriland Farm is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The farm is closed on Mondays.

WHERE IS IT? 2415 Woodbine Rd., Woodbine, Md.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? Peaches cost $1.75 per pound or $1.25 per pound if you buy more than 20 pounds.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION? Call 410-442-2605 or 301-854-6110, or visit http://www.pickyourown.com.

HAVE MORE THAN THREE HOURS? Use your peaches to make Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops and Peaches, Ginger Peach Julep or Steve Himelfarb's Grilled Crusted Salmon With Mango-White Peach Salsa and Glaze. Recipes for these and other peachy delights (pie, anyone?) are available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes.

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