Nothing says summer like a good, juicy peach. You bite into that soft, fuzzy skin and discover the sun wrapped up in its tender, yellow flesh. The juice runs down your cheeks as you savor its sweet taste.
But in this day and age when you go to the grocery store, usually all you get are hard, tasteless peaches that barely resemble the fruit we grew up with. That’s why I am ever on the quest to find a decent peach.
That’s why I was thrilled to find the Zirilli’s Peach Orchard in Silk Hope. Jan and Blaine Zirilli moved to Chatham County about five years ago to be closer to their two daughters and their grandchildren. They had run a large pick your own peach orchard in northern Virginia for many years. This is their first year of a pick your own operation in the Triangle region. It took a few years for the trees to get large enough to harvest, and to keep the deer at bay,and the weather to cooperate before they could share their harvest with others.
Located near Highway 64, about halfway between Pittsboro and Siler City, getting to the orchard is a breeze. Just turn right at Buckner Clark Road and travel about a half mile, then turn left on Hillside Dairy Road and then turn right on Clark Self and the first house on the left is the Zirilli’s orchard.
Jan and Blaine leave peck-sized bags on their side porch and ask that people pay $10 a bag. It’s a great bargain for these low-sprayed peaches. Jan pointed to the orchard and told us which rows are ready to be picked. There were rows of yellow-fleshed peaches and further down, the sweeter white-fleshed peaches. We picked a bag of each variety. As you go up and down the rows, you can admire these sturdy little trees. We noticed the white-fleshed variety had more bees and some kind of green beetle feasting on the peaches. As a low spray orchard, there is little defense against the bugs, except to get in and pick them as soon as possible.
Blaine said he thinks there will still be about three to four weeks of picking left as they go through the various varieties of peaches and nectarines.This is a great activity to do with your family. The kids can have a better understanding of where their food comes from when they have an opportunity to pick their own.
We are done picking all our peaches and after having a nice conversation with the Zirilli’s it’s time to drive home and think of all the great dishes we can make with these peaches. We’ll have the grill on later today, maybe we can grill some peaches, make a peach cobbler, or a peach pie, the possibilities are endless!
Zirilli’s is located at 91 Clark Self Road in Silk Hope. They said you can stop by and pick the peaches any time over the next few weeks. You are on the honor system if they are not at home.