Cal Red versus O'Henry: Which is better? That is the question. For me, my vote year after year goes to the O’Henry. For Farmer Al, it’s consistently the Cal Red. In my opinion, Farmer Al’s roots are too close to his alma mater Cal Berkeley and he can’t help but choose the Cal Red!
In all seriousness, they do have different and distinctive attributes which set each apart and on its own pedestal — each well deserved.
The Cal Red has a meaty, densely rich and complex peach flavor, without acid. Your first bite is a burst of sweet, peachy flavor not to be forgotten. It’s what we at Frog Hollow Farm refer to as the “Oh my God!” peach. That’s the phrase most commonly uttered when someone tastes a Cal Red peach for the very time. This is the peach that put us on the map with restaurants like Chez Panisse and The French Laundry. It’s been to the White House; it’s been on tables in the homes of Hollywood actors; and it has made special appearances on “The Martha Stewart Show” back in the day when “to Martha” meant you had arrived. The Cal Red isn't grown commercially by many because it’s finicky. It bruises easily, the shoulders (top by the stem) flatten under its own weight, it’s fuzzier than some and its cosmetic appearance can leave much to be desired. But how many of us have bumps and bruises on the outside, but are 100% sweet on the inside?!? We (and yes, that does include me) firmly believe the Cal Red is worth the trouble. It is a peach among peaches and surly the peach that inspired “James and the Giant Peach.”
So if the Cal Red is so great, why do I still call the O’Henry my favorite? Acid! Plain and simple, acid! The O’Henry has what the Cal Red does not have! I prefer the complex flavors that are introduced at the first bite of an O’henry. You get the same burst of sweet, sticky, densely flavored peachy wonderfulness, followed closely by a tingly, jazz of acid which your brain interprets as more flavor. The O’Henry peach is redder, less fuzzy and just as sweet as the Cal Red. I love it. There’s nothing difficult about the O’Henry. This is why it’s widely grown commercially. That being said, it is not “common” in its flavor, which again, is why it’s grown by so many.
Here on the farm the O’Henry is that perfect kid. You know the one I’m talking about: Pretty, sweet, complex, great overall performer, but still the underdog. The Cal Red is the kid who is Captain of the Football Team and everyone knows and loves.
My vote: the underdog, every time!
Sarah Coddington, Co-Owner, Frog Hollow Farm