A Peachy Rivalry Stews In Alabama

Like football, peaches down South are serious business; state bragging rights are on the line. So whose peaches are more delicious – Alabama's or Georgia's? One grower argues that the tree-ripened variety in Alabama's Chilton County is better.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And now we go from dried skin to fuzzy skin.

U: Peaches, peaches, of course.

MONTAGNE: MORNING EDITION's farmers market series heads south this week to sample one of the sweetest summer fruits. And like football, peaches down south are serious business that involve state bragging rights. We have two competing reports: the first from NPR's Debbie Elliott in Alabama.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: When the temperature is reaching the triple digits, there's no better time to look for the big peach just north of Montgomery on Interstate 65. It's really the water tower for the city of Clanton, Alabama.

MONTAGNE: We think we're the peach capital of the world, so. That's our argument with Georgia, but, you know, that's a good argument.

ELLIOTT: Fighting words from Danny Jones. He owns Durban Farms Market, a roadside stand that was here before the interstate. Huge fans stir the steamy air over baskets of peaches. They're still warm from being plucked off the tree.

MONTAGNE: It's not a peach unless juice is running down to your elbow, and then that's a peach. And most people have never had one of those until they get a tree-ripened peach.

ELLIOTT: Jones says Georgia's peaches might be more famous because the big growers there ship to grocery chains, but he argues the fruit grown in Chilton County, Alabama is better.

MONTAGNE: Once you leave that peach on that tree long enough and it gets enough of its sunshine and its heat at night - well, that's the big key. You know, 74 degrees at night, 75 degrees at night, that peach will still ripen, slowly ripen through the night, and it just gives it that sweet taste.

ELLIOTT: Beverly Carroll(ph) and her 11-year-old daughter Bailey(ph) of Gainesville, Florida are believers.

MONTAGNE: We always take a trip to Alabama for peaches, and the best ones are in the Chilton County. They outrival Georgia any day.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: That's the secret all the Floridians know, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: You have the Chilton County (unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: Yes. I love peaches. Peach anything - peach ice cream.

MONTAGNE: And we celebrate Fourth of July with peach ice cream.

ELLIOTT: The ice cream is a favorite at Durbin Farms. Danny Jones says they make 100 gallons a day, but he won't share the recipe.

MONTAGNE: That's something I would have to kill you if I give it to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ELLIOTT: Really?

MONTAGNE: It's our own little recipe. It is.

ELLIOTT: He does pull out his knife and share his pride.

MONTAGNE: There you go, ma'am. That's going to be good.

ELLIOTT: Hmm.

MONTAGNE: That's a peach.

ELLIOTT: Convincing even for me, a Georgia native.

Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Orange Beach, Alabama.

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