Less Traveled

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SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Stop by McLeod Farms for sweet S.C. peaches and much more

Posted 7/12/2012 5:44:00 PM

It wouldn’t be summer in South Carolina without peaches. One of my favorite places to stock up is McLeod Farms in McBee, home to some of the sweetest peaches in the state and a great stopping point between Charlotte, N.C., and Myrtle Beach. The store is open daily from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. year-round, but the best time to get peaches is mid-June through mid-August.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather and I drove to McBee every summer to get a bushel or two of peaches for cobblers, ice cream and just for eating. Back then, Mac’s Pride peaches were not available in every Piggly Wiggly grocery, but were sold from a roadside stand that later turned into a shed then a huge packing warehouse.

Owned by the McLeod family for nearly 100 years, the 650-acre farm grows about two dozen varieties of peaches including the very popular freestone varieties that are best for canning.

Now thousands of people stop by the Mac’s Pride store on S.C. 151 every day in the summer for peaches and so much more. The store has a variety of fresh produce you’ll need at the beach, such as cantaloupe, watermelon and fresh berries, and homemade products such as peach jam, peach salsa and apple butter. McLeod Farms even makes its own peach-based barbecue sauce.

Visitors can sample ciders and homemade baked goods, and the store sells Deluxe Brand ice cream that has been made in Mooresville, N.C., since 1924. It tastes so good, customers swear it’s homemade.

Next door to the store is Mac’s Pride Antique Farm Museum, filled with cars and farm equipment from the 1930s through modern day. Admission is free and the museum is open every day except holidays.

The newest addition to the stable of attractions at McLeod Farms is Big’s Meats & More. Big’s has a variety of beef and pork cuts at butcher-shop prices and a wonderful selection of deli sandwiches, hamburgers and salads that you can eat there or take with you. Just note that if you go in summer, there is limited indoor seating; outside tables are under tents and cooled by fans, but it’s still quite hot in July and August. Lunch at Big’s will run you about $8 per person. The restaurant opens at 9 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday and closes at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.

Buying tip: Peaches run $12-25 for a half-bushel box depending on the variety and whether they are “selects.” If you need your peaches to look good as well as taste good, go for the selects. If you’re just going to slice and smash them up for cobblers and ice cream, the less-expensive ones should do. Also, if a half-bushel is too many peaches for you to handle at once, go for the smaller containers. Better to pay a little more per peach than to waste.