Nothing evokes a foodie fever pitch more than the arrival of our Colorado Palisade peaches. They’re a symbol of our Colorado Summers and play a part in defining our culinary history. Let’s take a look.
Table of contents
- Where Are Colorado Peaches Grown?
- History of Palisade Peaches
- Why We Love Colorado Peaches
- Colorado Peach Facts
- What Variety of Peaches Are Grown In Colorado?
- When Is Palisade Peach Season?
- Where to find Palisade Peaches
- Want to pick your own Peaches?
- How to pick a Perfect Peach
- How To Store Fresh Palisade Peaches
- Peach Tips
- Just Want To Play Tourist?
- Want To Celebrate Peaches?
- In Conclusion
- Popular Peach Recipes
Where Are Colorado Peaches Grown?
Palisade Peaches are grown on our Western Slope, in and around the Town of Palisade, near Grand Junction. It’s the same area where many of our Colorado wineries are located.
With an unusually temperate climate it’s been called the fruit basket of Colorado.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Western Colorado, this part of the state is referred to as The Western Slope. And we call our peaches, Palisade Peaches or Western Slope Peaches.
History of Palisade Peaches
In 1881, colonizers began settling and developing the town of Palisade. Farmers quickly discovered the nutrient rich soil in this area, they and they began planting vegetables and grains.
Realizing that the rainfall wasn’t adequate for growing fruit trees, a man named John Harlow spearheaded a project to divert water from the Colorado River for irrigation, making it possible to cultivate orchards.
By the beginning of the 20th century 20,000 pounds of Palisade peaches were being shipped yearly to markets across the country. Orchards then expanded to include apples, pears, apricots and cherries. Vineyards proliferated, as well.
Today Palisade, Colorado is home to thousands of acres of orchards, farms and vineyards. Source: Coloradoinfo.com
Why We Love Colorado Peaches
Colorado peaches are known for being extra juicy and extra sweet. This is thanks to the unique combination of high altitude, long hot sunny days and cool Colorado summer nights … perfect conditions for fruity sugars to develop.
There’s simply nothing better than leaning over the sink to eat a juicy ripe chin dripping Palisade peach.
Colorado Peach Facts
- There are over 2,400 acres of peach orchards in Colorado. Colorado ranks 6th in peach production in the United States.
- Prime locations for growing peaches are Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Montezuma counties.
- Peaches account for 75% of all fruit production in the State of Colorado.
- Palisade peaches are also known for their nutritional value. They are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. They are low in calories and can be part of a healthy diet.
- Source: Colorado State University Extension
What Variety of Peaches Are Grown In Colorado?
There are two types of peaches grown on our Western Slope. Freestone and Clingstone. Freestone peaches are used for fresh peach sales, and Clingstone peaches are generally used for canning and processing.
When Is Palisade Peach Season?
Depending on weather conditions, Colorado Peach Season begins in July and can last through September. So make travel plans to visit our Western slope in late Summer.
Where to find Palisade Peaches
If you live in, or are visiting Colorado it’s easy, they’re practically everywhere you look. Late Summer early Fall you’ll find tented roadside stands selling fresh peaches all across the state. I’ve even seen stands in gas station parking lots selling Colorado produce.
Visit a local neighborhood Farmer’s Market. Almost every market statewide will host a fruit stand selling Palisade peaches.
Check grocery stores during peach season, even some of the larger chains will carry fresh Colorado produce. Look for the Colorado Proud banners.
Palisade peach farmers are eager to connect with local non-profit groups as Peach Sale Fundraisers. For example, each year, one may be able to order a case of Palisade peaches or pears from organizations such as Rotary Clubs. A case generally runs about $37. Orders are taken in July, then start counting the days until pick up in late August.
Hand-picked and hand-packed, a case of these peaches is stunning in appearance and beautiful with peach flavor.
Want to pick your own Peaches?
Where to pick your own peaches in Colorado? Businesses like the family-owned Palisade Peach Shack offer U Pick Tours through their beautiful cherry, apricot and peach orchards during Summer season. Just head over to their website to learn more and book that tour. You can also pick up a fresh pie and fruit jam to take on the road with you.
The Peach Shack Market is conveniently located just off the Palisade I-70 exit. It’s a great place to stop to pick up Colorado food souvenirs like jars of Palisade Peach Jam, Pie Pie Jam, Cherry Jam and Pear Jam. Not to mention peach and pear butters. You’ll also find specialty items like Palisade Peach Jalapeno Vinaigrette, Peach Honey and Spiced Pear Vinaigrette. And did I mention freshly made peach pies, Peach Hand Pies and ice cream? There’s also a selection of Colorado T-shirts. A convenient stop to grab Colorado gift souvenirs to take home to friends and family.
And when you’re done shopping, take a drive along the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway. A short drive will take you across the Colorado River to meander trough hillside vineyards, peach and pear orchards. It’s a scenic way to see what this agricultural area is all about. And you can stop along the way for some wine tasting.
How to pick a Perfect Peach
Think about when you’d like to eat those peaches. It all depends on how quickly you’re going to use them. If you’re buying just a few peaches as a snack for the next couple of day, purchase fresh peaches from your local Farmer’s market.
Gently squeeze the peach, and if it gives a little, the peach is ripe and ready to eat. If the peach is still firm, it would be a good candidate for a peach salad, as it will hold up better. This peach will be ready to eat as a snack in a couple of days stored at room temperature.
The best peaches should have vibrant yellow and golden-reddish skin. Skip peaches that have green spots, bruises or dents.
The scent of a peach is an excellent indicator of what the flavor will be. If the peach smells sweet, fragrant and very peachy, that’s what the flavor will be. If the peach has no fragrance, there will also be no flavor.
How To Store Fresh Palisade Peaches
When left at room temperature, peaches ripen quickly. So how do you store fresh peaches when you buy in quantity? Your refrigerator produce bin is your best friend.
Fresh Peaches will keep in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks.
Just take out one or two a day and leave on the counter to ripen, away from direct sunlight.
And if you’re still looking for ways to use up those peaches, make this Easy Freezer Peach Jam Recipe and then slather that jam on Salmon Fillets for Peach Jam Glazed Salmon.
- Be gentle when handling peaches. They can bruise easily.
- Peaches will continue to ripen at home. Leave them at room temperature on the kitchen counter, away from direct sunlight.
- And, rest them on their shoulder, rather than sitting up right resting on the bottom or the peach.
How to freeze Peaches
If you buy a case of peaches and are worried you won’t be able to use them up. Peaches are very easy to freeze. Here’s how:
- Peel and slice the peaches. Tip: It’s much easier and faster to peel the peaches while they are whole, before slicing.
- Place the peach slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Place the peach slices so they are not touching.
- Place the pans of peach slices in the freezer. They should take around four hours to freeze, or better yet, plan for them to stay in the freezer overnight.
- Transfer the frozen peach slices to resealable freezer safe plastic bags. Press as much of the air out as possible and store in the freezer.
This method will allow you to use as many peach slices as you wish. Frozen peaches will keep up to six months in a refrigerator freezer, or up to a year in a stand alone freezer.
Tip: Frozen peaches are excellent choice for making Fresh Peach Ice Cream.
Just Want To Play Tourist?
The Peach Shack Market is conveniently located just off the Palisade I-70 exit. It’s a great place to stop to pick up Colorado food souvenirs like jars of Palisade Peach Jam, Pie Pie Jam, Cherry Jam and Pear Jam. Not to mention peach and pear butters. You’ll also find specialty items like Palisade Peach Jalapeno Vinaigrette, Peach Honey and Spiced Pear Vinaigrette. And did I mention freshly made peach pies, peach hand pies and ice cream? There’s also a selection of Colorado T-shirts.
A very convenient stop to grab Colorado gift souvenirs to take home to friends and family.
And when you’re done shopping, take a drive along the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway. A short drive will take you across the Colorado River to meander trough hillside vineyards, peach and pear orchards. It’s a scenic way to see what this what this very special agricultural area is all about.
And you can stop along the way for some wine tasting. We enjoyed some lovely sips of wine at Colterris Winery. With indoor and outdoor seating, it’s a lovely way to learn about Colorado wine.
Want To Celebrate Peaches?
Experience Palisade peaches at their finest during the Palisade Peach Festival. It’s an event to celebrate the local farmers and businesses that put Colorado peaches on the map.
You can purchase tickets for an orchard tour, or attend the Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast. There’s a “Just Peachy” 5k event. Peach eating contests, BBQ smack-downs, culinary demonstrations … and more.
Palisade, Co and Grand Junction, CO are conveniently located along I-70, our major east-west Interstate. Going West take Exit 42 to reach Palisade and just a few miles further West, exit 37 to reach Grand Junction.
If you are planning to visit Colorado during the summer months, be sure to stop by Palisade and taste our delicious peaches. You can visit one of the many orchards in the area, stop at one of the local restaurants for lunch, go on a peach tasting tour, or attend one of the peach festivals. You won’t be disappointed!
And if you visit Breckenridge Brewery, one of Colorado most popular breweries located in Breckenridge, or Littleton, CO, you can even order a Palisade Peach Beer. A fruit forward, unfiltered American Style Wheat Ale bursting with bright and juicy peach flavor.
Colorado Palisade peaches are a true gem of the fruit world. Their unique flavor and nutritional value make them a favorite among fruit lovers. If you have never tasted a Palisade peach, put it on your bucket list. You won’t regret it!
Popular Peach Recipes
Now that you’ve got a stash of those beautiful Colorado Peaches, here are some of the most popular recipes to make them shine.
- Homemade Peach Custard Ice Cream
- Homemade Peach and Blueberry Pie
- Vanilla Roasted Peach Dessert Cups with Mascarpone Cheese
Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.
Great post Lea Ann. I remember being surprised to learn that peaches were being grown in the cold West. And with the low humidity, I suspect the growers don’t have to deal with the fungal issues rt have here in the South. I really like this comment – “There’s simply nothing better than leaning over the sink to eat a juicy ripe chin dripping Palisade peach.”
Velva-Evening With A Sandwich says
Colorado has had plenty of cold days to really get those peaches going! I bet it is going to a fabulous year for Colorado peaches. Here in the south we grow peaches too-but, we need enough cold days to get them going.
Cheers to peach season!