Oregold peaches are Harry & David trademark

I'm writing from Texas, where we received a box of Oregold peaches, which we really enjoyed. I tried to research how we might purchase more of these or comparable peaches and came up with your newspaper's Web site. Do you know of any growers who ship direct?

— Sam H., via e-mail

Boy, Sam, do we know a grower who ships a lot of fruit. That happens to be Harry & David, founded and headquartered in Medford.

In fact, Harry & David is the only source for Oregold peaches because it's the company's trademarked brand. But that doesn't mean it's a singular type of peach. Bear Creek Orchards, the arm of Harry & David's fruit-growing operation, produces six varieties of peaches marketed as Oregold. The brand, itself, designates a golden-fleshed, free-stone variety that meets Harry & David's standards of quality, says Keith Emerson, director of orchard fruit production for Bear Creek.

"They call it a yellow, melting flesh," he says.

Bear Creek Orchards started harvesting topaz peaches in mid-July, followed by flavor crest, red top, all star, sun crest and zee lady. The Rogue Valley's peach season winds down around Labor Day, Emerson says. While some late-season peaches can still be had, Bear Creek has to effectively curtail its harvest to gear up for pear season, which provides the vast majority of its holiday gift fruit, Emerson adds.

And while demand for peaches has significantly fallen off, Harry & David still is filling a few orders with fruit grown in Washington or Idaho, Emerson says. Early-season peaches usually come from California while East Coast customers likely receive Georgia peaches. Harry & David sources fruit around the country to maintain quality, Emerson says, adding that peaches are never held in cold storage for more than five days.

It's hard to say where your peaches actually were grown, but in high season, Bear Creek Orchards filled nearly 100 percent of orders, Emerson says. Regardless of origin, peaches stamped Oregold will meet Harry & David's standards, he adds.

"We're kind of picky."

To order more Oregolds go to Harry and David's Web site, www.harryanddavid.com.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.

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