Rio Oso Gem Peach
There is an old-as-dirt punch line that farmers use when confronted with the question of “What’s your favorite vegetable or crop?” The farmer must use the correct timing for best effect (long pause, thoughtful furrowing of the brow) but the classic deadpan reply is “The one I’m harvesting now.” So it is that in early September that my favorite eating peach is the Rio Oso Gem.
Rio Oso Gem was developed in the 1920’s as a large, late-harvest, all-purpose peach. It is named in honor of the very small town of Rio Oso, California in the Sierra foothills. Today this peach has little presence in the commercial market. The trees are small which is an advantage to a backyard grower but its overall yield is lower than that of current cultivars. And it has a tendency for fruit drop. Finally, some say that the flesh of a Rio Oso is coarser than that of more popular peaches. There is some truth to that but its nothing that a dab of ice cream won’t fix.
The Rio Oso Gem peach is listed on the Slow Food Ark of Taste and, as advertised, its fruit ripen at the tail end of peach season here in California.
My crop of Rio Oso Gem peaches is from a single five-year-old tree, grown organically in the Valley of the Moon.
Vegetables of Interest, 2008