My in-laws living in the Tri-Cities, we make the drive over a few times a year, always going through Vantage, rather than Yakima, because it shaves off a whopping ten minutes and because it's gorgeous, in an Eastern Washington kinda way.
It just so happens that spectacular scenery isn't the only thing to be found near Vantage. A mere hop, skip, and a jump away is Royal City, home of Verhey's Peaches. The Verhey family as been growing peaches since 1967, and they like to call them "lean over" peaches because, well, if you don't lean over to eat them, you're going to dribble sweet peach juice all over yourself.
Did you meet our new friends last week?
If you did, surely Shirley offered you a sample of the tempting wares.
On offer were the last of the Delp Hale freestone peaches. And by "last of," I don't mean the last of the season. I mean the last Delp Hale freestone peaches grown hereabouts. The Verheys' eleven acres nurture the last trees growing this, the earliest freestone variety, bred from the Delp variety, itself an earlier variety of the later and better-known Elberta peaches. Most other farmers have switched to varieties that can be picked green, for ease of transport. Those finicky Delp Hales must be picked ripe, lucky for us.
Elberta...Elberta peaches, you say, I've heard that name somewhere... Probably here:
Only the tastiest canned peaches ever. As you know, I don't can myself, but Shirley was saying she was going to do some Delp-Hale canning pretty shortly, though she also loved to dehydrate them or grill them and serve them up with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of honey.
Frankly, the only way we put peaches by in our house is by making them into pies and freezing them. If there are leftover peaches, after pie-making and eating them out of hand, I whip up a peach cobbler. They certainly have never lasted long enough in the house to make it to the slice-and-freeze or smoothie-ingredient stage (Shirley does that, too)!
For you road-trippers, if you add Royal City to your itinerary, Verheys offers u-pick peaches for a piddly $1 per pound!
Be sure to swing by and try some yourself this week. We'll be out of town, but Shirley assured me that she'll be at our Market through August, so I can load up when we return.