We’re well into the harvesting season, and there’s no place where that’s more evident than Uncle Don’s Local Market.
Fresh produce, recently harvested from around the region, crowded the little shopping space, on a cool Tuesday morning. Seasonal fruits and veggies are always popular, but nothing beats the jewel of Georgia.
“What everyone wants is peaches. There’s always a battle over which is better Georgia or South Carolina,” Maxey said.
Maxey has a few varieties of South Carolina peaches on the shelves at his store at 1620 Frederica Road right now. Not as good as Georgia’s own, in his opinion, but those grown in the Spartanburg area are as good as they get from our northern neighbor.
His Georgia peaches are coming from a little farm between Fort Valley and Roberta, and he promises they will be sweet and fresh.
“That’s our biggest draw is peaches,” Maxey said. “The first thing tourists want is peaches. They’re in Georgia, they want peaches.”
Until those arrive, the next hottest item on his shelf is already in stock — field peas.
Lady peas, white acres, pink eye, butter peas, crowder peas and butter beans are the best of the best, cook well and taste good fresh or frozen, he says.
As the summer progresses, his shelves will populate with watermelons, cantaloupes, okra, silver queen corn and heirloom tomatoes, among others. It’s never a waste of time to just stop by and see what’s in stock, Maxey said.
Maxey also runs an “honor market” on Demere Road read the roundabout at Frederica Road, adjacent to the McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport. During the summer, he stocks it a few times a day with fresh produce. Pay what you want. It’s not a perfect system, but no one’s found one yet. Some pay nothing and some pay more than the listed price, so it balances out.
For the best ingredients, though, he had one piece of advice: “Grow your own.”
Since peas are available right now, Maxey recommended using some to make his favorite Southern-style boiled peas.
“It’s like dessert. If you really want to go all-in, add butter,” Maxey said.
Southern-style boiled peas
1 lb fresh or frozen peas
1 Vidalia onion, or other sweet variety
Directions: First off wash the peas thoroughly. Fry up two slices of bacon for every pound and keep the grease. Pour peas into a pot and fill with water until it the peas are barely submerged. Add grease and chopped onion and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer when the boiling point is reached. Simmer peas for another 30-40 minutes, adding water as necessary “just like grits, you don’t want too much water and you don’t want too little.” You don’t want too much water left over. Simmer less for crunchier peas and longer for a softer, melt-in-your-mouth texture. If substituting butter beans, simmer for just 20 minutes.
Once peas have reached the desired texture, remove from heat and add crumbled-up bacon strips.
For a healthy alternative, skip the bacon and butter.