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Peach-O-Rama is Just Peachy

Cutline for photo: Peach-O-Rama peaches from Pence Orchards must have a Brix level of 13 or higher.

Peach-O-Rama is taking place right now at Metropolitan Markets all throughout the Puget Sound, but most importantly at Tacoma's own Met Market in the Proctor District. What does this mean for you? This means amazing peaches and peach products, from peach salsa to peach-glazed drumsticks.

But, of course, most of the excitement is about the peaches themselves-so much excitement that when I went to Met Market to make a peach purchase, there were no peaches.

"Our quality standards are what make sure the peaches are so good," says produce manager Mike Pulicicchio. "Our farmers won't send them out unless they meet our criteria. They're taking the cream of the crop off the field. If they're not ready, they just leave them on the trees longer and then we might have gaps."

Fear not. If you show up and there are no peaches, the peaches will return soon.

Met Market works primarily with one peach orchard located in Wapato, Wash.-Pence Orchards. Pence chooses to keep its orchards small and concentrate on quality over quantity. The market is also developing a relationship with Valicoff Orchards. Valicoff is conveniently located just across the street from Pence, and Pence is helping them get up to speed on the strict requirements Metropolitan Market has for Peach-O-Rama.

These requirements ensure that all Peach-O-Rama peaches are high-grade and even involve some peachy science.

"We have a device called a refractometer," says Pulicicchio. "We drop the juice on there and look through what looks like a little telescope and it tells you the sugar content."

Each day, the market measures the Brix, or sugar content, of the peaches. High-grade peaches measure at 13 and above. When you go into the store to buy your peaches during Peach-O-Rama, you can check the Brix billboard and know exactly how delicious your peaches will be in advance. Average grocery-store peaches commonly fall in the 11 to 12 range and are picked before they are ripe and chilled to increase shelf life. Peach-O-Rama peaches usually stay on the shelves for three days or less.

Beyond the peaches, there is also a vast array of peach products to choose from. Vast! Look for the Peach-O-Rama label on products and put together a peach party. Some products are store regulars, like Little Rae's Bakery peach passion scones or Arriba! peach salsa. Some peach delicacies are in season with the peaches-peach-glazed chicken drummies at the deli, peach yogurt and granola cups, peach cookies, peach blueberry crumble, peach cupcakes by Cupcake Royale, and a white chocolate peach cake that made me lick the bakery case a little bit when no one was looking.

My favorite peach product is by far the peach passion scones-buttery scone punctuated by peach pieces complete with a passion-fruit drizzle that completes me.

As for Pulicicchio, "Honestly, if it comes down to it, I'd rather just have the peaches," he says.

Technically Peach-O-Rama ends at the end of August, but the peaches will be in stock until the farmers run out, likely until the middle of September.

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