Heirloom Elberta Peaches

A Sweet Memory

The once-famous Elberta peach is now an unlikely find, having been relegated to the shelves of antiquity shortly after World War II. But during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Elbertas were the standard for fresh eating. It’s probable that our own grandmothers would have selected this peach to fill the jars in their cupboards for all sorts of baked desserts, come winter.
The Elberta is sweet with a smidge of tartness; a pretty yellow heirloom peach splashed with a crimson blush. Enjoy them fresh, or if you prefer your peaches sugared up, the Elberta is an excellent choice for all kinds of cobblers, tarts, pies, and jams. You’ll love “putting it by” as well. We hear it’s easy to peel, and being a freestone variety, it effortlessly releases the pit inside.
The Elberta Peach Story
In the central part of Georgia, where the rolling red clay hills become flat farmland and where winters are cool and temperate, some of our country’s finest peaches were (and continue to be) discovered and developed. It is here that the Elberta peach has its beginnings.
“In 1875, when Mrs. L. E. Veal, a former college mate of Mrs. Rumph’s, was visiting at Willow Lake, Mr. Samuel H. Rumph was exhibiting to her one specimen after another of peaches. Finally, he brought out a clear seeded peach with yellow flesh and a crimson blush on its cheek.
Loud were the exclamations when it was shown. Mrs. Veal asked its name.
He replied, “It has no name. It is my origination. I want you to name it.”
Whereupon Mrs. Veal said, “Well, let’s honor your wife and call it for her. You’ll never have anything to surpass it on this continent. Elberta is its name.”
The maiden name of Mrs. Samuel H. Rumph was Clara Elberta Moore, the daughter of Benning T. Moore, himself one of the earliest in Georgia to set out a commercial peach orchard. Thus, in 1875 Samuel H. Rumph produced his Elberta peach.” (The Georgia Peach Council)
Elberta peaches were a marvel in their day because they could withstand being transported a distance without becoming too soft. With many good folks in the northern and western states hungering for Georgia’s heavenly peaches, the Elberta had only to reach these distant lands.
But how to send a box of peaches, let alone a whole orchard of delicate fruit, to the distant market without a reliable means of refrigerated transportation? Samuel Rumph had good reason to give the matter serious consideration.
It must not have taken him long, because according to Wikipedia, in 1875, the same year he produced his Elberta peach, Mr. Rumph was the first to successfully invent a refrigerated rail car that was safe to pull and also kept the foods inside cold, but not too cold. His famous Elberta peaches were sent hither and yon aboard these new boxcars…
…and the Georgia peach industry began.

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