Chilton County officially kicks off peach season

Chilton County officially kicks off peach season

CHILTON CO., AL (WSFA) - For some Alabamians, summer is synonymous with peaches. Especially in Chilton County, which is considered the "peach capital" of Alabama.

"We're in the peach belt between Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina," says Jim Pitts, Director of the Chilton Research and Extension Center.

Chilton County claims to be right in the "sweet spot" of that peach belt. Peach Trees cover about 3,500 acres of Chilton County. It's the largest peach-producing county in the state, producing more than 15 million pounds of peaches every year. That's over 80 percent of Alabama's peach crop that's grown in Chilton County.

"Agriculture is the state's largest industry," Pitts says. "Peaches, we figure, is about a $10 million economic impact in the state."

The peach crop is very sensitive to the weather.

"We count every hour below 45 degrees between October and February," Pitts explains that peaches need cold weather to thrive. That's sometimes a challenge in Alabama.  "This year we were real short on chill hours, and some of the peaches we got are going to be a little bit misshapen because of that."

The Chilton Research and Extension Center conducts research to support the county's plethora of peach growers as well as research on almost all the other fruits and many of the vegetables grown in Alabama.

Below is the recipe for a slightly different peach salsa recipe:

Peach Apple Salsa
  • 6 cups (2¼ pounds) chopped Roma tomatoes (about 3 pounds tomatoes as purchased)
  • 2½ cups diced yellow onions (about 1 pound or 2 large as purchased)
  • 2 cups chopped green bell peppers (about 1½ large peppers as purchased)
  • 10 cups (3½ pounds) chopped hard, unripe peaches (about 9 medium peaches or 4½ pounds as purchased peaches)
  • 2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples (about 2 large apples as purchased)
  • 4 tablespoons mixed pickling spice
  • 1 tablespoon canning salt
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3¾ cups (1¼ pound) packed light brown sugar
  • 2¼ cups cider vinegar (5%)

Yield: About 7 pint jars

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