Rittman Orchards

Two Peaches Fell Close to Family Tree

“To be there at just the right moment at these seasonal transitions, to get one of these peaches at the farmers market with the morning sun, the dew on the grass, is just so precious.” This according to Spice Kitchen + Bar’s Ben Bebenroth, who has used Chris and Matt Vodraska’s Rittman Orchards as one of his only two peach suppliers for the past four years.“The clean, crisp flavor, bright with sugar in the front and a little acid at the side of the mouth. They have beautiful products and never disappoint.”

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The Vodraska brothers have taken the helm as the second generation of their family to run the 125-acre farm southwest of Akron. “It’s cool to see multiple generations of a family in farming,” says Chef Bebenroth, “and we like to support that. It’s not easy for these young farmers.”

Since 1974, the family has lived and farmed from Ashtabula to Washington State and back, and they know that they have a good thing here in their native state. “Northeast Ohio is a great place to do what we do,” Chris says. “Peaches especially love the hot, humid summers of our region and the season graces us from mid-July until mid-September.” With Rittman’s 25 old and new varieties, there’s always something different ripening.

Between the farm and the orchard market fully stocked with numerous varieties of produce and cases full of freshly baked cookies and fruit pies, one might think that the Vodraskas would be busy enough. But still remaining are the two farmers markets each week and the many busy restaurants that they supply in Cleveland.

Karen Small, owner of the Flying Fig in Ohio City, uses Rittman peaches in both sweet and savory dishes each season. “They really do have an amazing quality product. Very consistent,” she says. ““There’s a reason there’s a line at their stand every Saturday. Every variety is different from the other and really supple and really deep in flavor. They just kind of taste like a peach ought to taste. I love them!”

“We like the peaches that are a little overripe, the seconds,” explains Chef Bebenroth. ‘They’re cheaper and perfect for processing and using in jams, compotes, syrups for the bar. We blanche them, peel, and cut into 1⁄8 slices, and then freeze in bags of about 4 pounds each. The perfect ones will be used in salads and cobblers.”

Rittman’s produce, including peaches, apple varieties, berries, other stone fruits, and heaps of vegetables, is available at Miles Farmers Market, West Point Market, and Foote’s Valley Farm, and is used at The Greenhouse Tavern, Lola, Bar Cento, The Flying Fig, Spice Kitchen + Bar, fire food and drink, and other excellent restaurants across the region. In season, Matt can also be found at the North Union Farmers Markets on Saturdays at Shaker Square and on Wednesdays at the Cleveland Clinic.

Rittman Orchards
13548 Mt. Eaton Rd. (SR94), Doylestown, 330.925.4152