With summer comes sizzling heat, afternoon thunderstorms and peaches – lots and lots of peaches.
Roadside stands flooded with baskets of peaches are popping up all over Aiken County. As any local could tell you, these are some of the most popular places to buy fresh-picked peaches from nearby local farms.
"Today's a little bit of a slow day," said peach-seller Sean Griffith. "But this weekend we were slammed. They've been coming in all the time."
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Griffith was manning Sara's Fresh Market roadside stand on Columbia Highway N. on Monday afternoon. The peaches sold at the stand come from Titan Farms in nearby Ridge Spring.
"When you get them here, they're picked locally – just 15 minutes away," Griffith said.
There is also a Sara's Fresh Market stand in Trenton, which Griffith said is "always booming."
Peach season doesn't just bring the raw fruit to the market. Peaches are so popular in South Carolina that they have been worked into a variety of foods.
Some of these foods – such as peach salsa, peach cider, peach jelly, peach chutney and peach BBQ sauce – can be found at roadside stands like Sara's Fresh Market and are made from fresh-picked peaches.
Sara's also bakes the peaches into loaves of bread and peach fritters. The roadside stand in Trenton even sells peach ice cream.
Peach roadside stands are so popular, one even pops up annually in the heart of the city of Aiken.
The Peach Pit, run by Jodie Tyler, sells Johnston peaches from Satcher Farms.
The current peach crop is made of Ruby Prince clingstone peaches. Other types of peaches will become available later in the season.
"The freestones are coming in about a week and a half, two weeks," said Caroline Tyler. "The second half of summer, there's all different varieties, and they're all freestone."
All kinds of peach foods and condiments, such as peach cider and peach chutney, are made with fresh, locally picked peaches during the summer.
Freestone peaches are sweeter than clingstone and a little easier to slice because the pit doesn't stick to the rest of the fruit. Tyler said freestone peaches are her favorite, but she was happy with the peaches the farms have already produced.
"These are the best fresh crop-peaches I've had in a long time," Tyler said.
The Peach Pit sold out of sugar plums recently. They are currently selling morris plums and blueberries along with peaches.
The Peach Pit is open at 1518 Whiskey Road every day from 9 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m.
Sara's Fresh Market roadside stands are open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are located at 2601 Columbia Highway N. and 5150 Edgefield Road.