SC State Fruit and Vegetable

Explore South Carolina’s culinary heritage through its official state produce

A flavorful journey through time

Story by Sheila Paz

South Carolina is renowned for its vibrant culinary scene, partly thanks to its official state fruit, the peach, and the state vegetable, collard greens. Ever wonder how these two became such pivotal elements of South Carolinian identity? Here’s a bite of the delicious history of South Carolina’s beloved produce.


Fresh peaches in baskets

The peach renaissance

The story of South Carolina’s peaches begins in the aftermath of the cotton boom. With the state’s cotton fields exhausted, farmers sought alternative crops to sustain their livelihoods. Peaches emerged as unlikely heroes, earning the nickname “Savior of the South” by revitalizing the agricultural landscape in the mid-19th century. This resurgence of peach farming led to the S.C. legislature officially designating the peach as the state fruit in 1984.

Today South Carolina produces over 200 million pounds of peaches annually, cultivated across 18,000 acres of orchards. The state has honed its peach cultivation techniques to such a degree that it has been affectionately called the “tastiest peach state.”

Where to find the juiciest peaches

Sedgwick Campbell: 2 Tanglewood Drive, Hilton Head Island. In front of the Holiday Inn Express.

Carolina Seafood and Produce: Available at Hilton Head Community Market on Saturdays and Hilton Head Farmers Market on Tuesdays.

Barefoot Farms: 939 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island

Chappel Farms: 1371 Kings Ave., Barnwell

Creative ways to use fresh peaches

Here are five innovative ideas to incorporate fresh peaches into your cooking and baking, showcasing their versatility.

Grilled peaches with balsamic glaze

Grilling peaches intensifies their sweetness and adds a smoky flavor that is irresistible. Cut peaches in half and remove the pits. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and grill on medium heat until charred and tender. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and fresh basil for a chic appetizer or dessert.

Grilled peaches with balsamic drizzle

Peach salsa

Swap out tomatoes for diced peaches in your favorite salsa recipe to create a sweet and spicy condiment that’s perfect for grilled chicken, fish or simply scooped up with tortilla chips. Add finely chopped red onions, jalapeños, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to diced peaches for a refreshing twist on traditional salsa.

peach salsa on a dark wood background. the toning. selective focus

Peach & prosciutto pizza

Elevate your pizza night with a combination of sweet peaches and salty prosciutto. Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese on your pizza dough, then top with thin slices of fresh peaches, torn prosciutto and a handful of shredded arugula. After baking, finish with a drizzle of honey balsamic reduction for a gourmet pizza that balances sweet, salty and peppery flavors.

Three Cheese Peach and Prosciutto Pizza with Basil and Honey Balsamic Reduction

Peach chutney

Make a batch of peach chutney to add a sweet and tangy flavor to grilled meats, sandwiches or cheese boards. Cook down diced peaches with vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and a mix of spices until thickened. This chutney can elevate simple dishes with its complex flavors and textures.

Homemade peach chutney

Peaches and cream overnight oats

For a make-ahead breakfast that tastes like dessert, layer sliced peaches with overnight oats mixed with vanilla yogurt or almond milk. The oats will absorb the peach juices and yogurt, creating a creamy and indulgent breakfast that’s ready to go in the morning.

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats. Healthy breakfast made with oats soaked for the night in milk or yogurt layered with cubes of fresh peaches, served in a clear glass.


Vegetable, Delicious Fresh Brassica Oleracea or Collard Green Cabbages Growing in Kitchen Garden.

Greens of resilience

Collard greens have been a cornerstone of South Carolinian cuisine since the 1700s. Initially prepared by simple sautéing, their flavor profile was dramatically enhanced through the culinary innovations introduced by enslaved African-Americans, who cooked them in chicken-based stock. Throughout the South collard greens became a symbol of resilience, especially during the Great Depression.

In 2011, thanks to the advocacy of a 9-year-old girl, Mary Grace Wingard, and her compelling letter to state legislators, collard greens were officially recognized as the state vegetable. Wingard’s letter highlighted the vegetable’s widespread cultivation and its significant role in South Carolina’s agricultural output.

Where to find the freshest collards

Barefoot Farms: 939 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island

Farmers Market of Bluffton: Noon-4 p.m., Thursdays, 68 Boundary St., Bluffton

Hilton Head Island Farmers Market: 9-11 a.m., Tuesdays, Coastal Discovery Museum, HHI

Port Royal Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, Ribaut Road and Pinckney Boulevard, Port Royal 

In her words

Click here to read the letter 9-year-old Mary Grace Wingard sent to state legislators, leading to collard greens being named South Carolina’s official state vegetable.

Creative ways to use fresh collards

Here are five creative ways to incorporate fresh collard greens into your meals, proving that they’re much more than a side dish.

Stuffed collard greens

Take inspiration from dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and use collard greens as a wrapper for savory fillings. Blanche the leaves briefly to soften, then wrap them around a mixture of rice, ground meat (or a vegetarian alternative), herbs and spices. Simmer in a tomato-based sauce for a hearty dish that’s sure to impress.

Stuffed collard greens with boiled leaves, traditonal turkish black sea region food, sarma, dolma (Turkish name; Kara lahana sarmasi)

Collard greens smoothie

Change your morning routine with a green smoothie that includes collard greens. Blend the greens with fruits like bananas, apples or pineapples, along with a liquid base (such as almond milk or coconut water) for a nutritious drink that starts your day on the right foot.

Fresh green detox juice with collard and lemon

Collard greens wraps

Swap out tortillas or bread for large, blanched collard green leaves to create nutritious and gluten-free wraps. Fill them with your choice of proteins, grains, vegetables and sauces. For an Asian twist, try a filling of grilled chicken, rice noodles, shredded carrots and a spicy peanut sauce.

Collard Green Wraps with Black Bean Hummus, Avocado, Red Cabbage, Shredded Carrots and Cilantro

Collard greens and white bean soup

Up your soup game by adding chopped collard greens to a simmering pot of white bean soup. The greens add a burst of color and a boost of nutrition. With a base of vegetable broth, onions, garlic and herbs, this soup is a comforting meal for any season.

white beans with collard greens

Collard greens chips

For a healthy alternative to potato chips, tear collard greens into bite-sized pieces, toss them with olive oil and your choice of seasonings, then bake until crispy. These chips are a delicious, nutrient-packed snack that’s perfect for dipping or enjoying on their own.

Baked Kale and collard greens chips on a baking sheet.

Similar Posts