With a nickname like “the Peach State,” Georgia sets a high bar for flavor expectations. Fortunately, it makes good on its promise. Not only is the Georgia peach delicious, but it also has the perfect texture and comes packed with nutrients. From cobblers to jams, jellies, ice cream, barbecue sauce, chutney, salads and cocktails, this versatile fruit has helped put this Southern state on the map.
Georgia’s “peachiness” has a history that goes back long before the nickname became official in 1995. Franciscan Monks grew peaches in the 16th century on St. Simons and Cumberland Islands off Georgia’s Atlantic coast. The Cherokee Nation cultivated peaches during the 18thcentury in Georgia as well. But it wasn’t until 1851 when Raphael Moses began marketing Georgia peaches outside of the state that the true Georgia peach cravings started.
After the Civil War, a peach boom exploded as farmers sought an alternative to cotton. Soon after, railroads expanded across the South, and with the invention of refrigerated box cars, the sweet, fuzzy treats could now travel to New York, San Francisco and anywhere in between.
Of all the Georgia peach festivals that take place every June, a pair of big events stand out for
their peachy goodness. The Georgia Peach Festivalbegins in Fort Valley (June 7-8) and resumes in Byron (June 15). Thousands of peach lovers descend on these towns to celebrate, eat and enjoy everything related to this iconic summer fruit.
The Best Way to Enjoy Peaches
Ask any camper for the best way to enjoy peaches and most will say in a cobbler cooked in a cast-iron Dutch oven over hot coals. Others will say in pies, jams and even cocktails. The combination of fresh fruit and spirits like tequila, vodka, gin and whiskey have fueled the love of fresh-from-the-orchard peaches like no other.
The Perfect Peach Margarita
A great way to enjoy the bright, sweet and delicious flavor of a Georgia peach is in a spiced margarita. Summertime calls for barbecues, friends and a cocktail that’s cold, refreshing and easy on the eyes. The peach hue, bright-green lime zest, and rosy red from cayenne pepper dress this adult beverage to the nines. The sweetness of the peach puree and the heat from the cayenne balance each other perfectly. The citrus punch from the lime zest amazes your taste buds and pairs perfectly with the orange-infused tequila and the extra kick of lime zest in the salt rim. The separate flavors complement each other perfectly, conspiring to create the best summer margarita you’ll ever sip.
- 2 cups margarita mix
- peach puree from above
- 4 oz silver tequila
- Fresh peach slices to decorate and rub the rim
- Peel ripe peaches, slice and remove pits and add them to a small saucepot.
- Add ginger, orange zest, lime juice and sugar. Mix well and simmer over medium heat, covered, for 5-7 minutes.
- Pulse mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Cool completely.
- Combine margarita mix, tequila, peach schnapps and peach puree in a blender.
- Pulse a couple of times to blend.
- Rub rims of glasses with peach and dip each glass rim in salt.
- Fill glasses up with ice about half way and divide margarita mixture among the glasses.
- Garnish, kick your feet up and enjoy!
2 ripe large peaches, peeled, pits removed 2 Tbsp granulated sugar 1 tsp fresh grated ginger 1 tsp fresh orange zest 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Seasoned Salt Rim
¼ cup kosher salt 1 lime zest 1 tsp cayenne pepper