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Peaches grow in warm temperate and subtropical regions of the world. The peach is a a fleshy, round fruit with yellowish-red skin, a furry down and a rough stone. The peach belongs to the family Rosaceae. Peaches can be red, pink, yellow or white in color. There is a distinct vertical indentation on one side of the fruit. Peaches are very similar to nectarines, but peaches are fuzzy and dull, while nectarines are smooth and shiny.

Peaches do not ripen well after they have been picked so they must always be picked after they are ripe. Ripe peaches last only for a few days.

Though the botannical name, Prunus persica, suggests the peach is native to Persia, it actually originated in China. Chinese writings that date back to the tenth century B.C mention peaches as a favored fruit of the emperors.


[edit] Health benefits

A 100 g peach provides almost three quarters of the daily vitamin C requirement of the body and is also low in calories.

Peaches have excellent antioxidant activity and good tumor growth inhibition activity.

Peaches also contain a large amount of potassium and also contain vitamins C and A. They have diuretic, laxative amd digestive properties. Tea made with peach leaves is believed to destroy worms.

Dried peaches have a higher concentration of nutrients.However, most commercially-dried peaches are treated with sulfur dioxide to enhance their color.

Peach pits contain a toxic substance known as hydrocyanic acid or cyanide which should be avoided. Ingestion of large quantities of the pits can be fatal.

The peach is helpful in the following conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
  • Nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys)
  • Acidosis (deficiency of alkalinity in the body)
  • Bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes)
  • Asthma
  • Poor digestion
  • Bladder and kidney stones.
  • Helps improve the health of the skin and adds color to the complexion.
  • Helpful in the removal of worms from the intestinal tract.
  • May help prevent cancer in organs and glands with epithelial tissue due to its high Vitamin A content.

[edit] Selecting and storing

Choose peaches that are firm to the touch but yield to gentle pressure. The fruits should be unblemished and have a fragrant aroma.

Most peaches have a rosy blush but this is not an indication of quality. A well-defined cleft however, is an indication of maturity. Never select peaches with a hint of green as they will never fully ripen. Peaches continue to ripen after being picked from the tree but the sugar production ceases.

Peaches can go from under ripe to overripe in a matter of twenty-four hours and should be checked regularly.

Peaches are highly perishable and should be used within a few days. The fruit should be washed just before use. Refrigeration may extend their life by a day or two.

Remove the seed before canning or freezing peaches. Peaches frozen in a sugar syrup preserve better than those frozen in plain water. Overripe fruits should be pureed.

[edit] Serving ideas

Peaches can be eaten fresh or poached, candied, driedy, cooked, canned, or frozen. To peel peaches, blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds, then plunge them into cold water. Peaches can be added to yogurt, ice cream, fruit salads, tarts, or breakfast cereal. They can also be used in crepes, sorbets, soufflés, jams or jellies, marinades, and juices. Peaches are also distilled in brandy and liqueurs.

The most well-known dishes using peaches are Cobbler, pie, and Melba . Peach Melba was created by famed French chef Escoffier in honor of Australian opera singer Nellie Melba. The basic melba recipe consists of half of a peach poached in syrup, topped with vanilla ice cream, and garnished with raspberry puree.

[edit] Tips

  • The skin of the peach becomes tough when cooked. To remove the skin, blanch in boiling water for one minute and then immediately plunge into cold water.
  • Substitute nectarines, apricots, plums, pluots, cherries, or mango with peaches in recipes.
  • The fleah of the peach darkens with exposure to air, so cook them immediately once cut or retard the darkening by dipping the cut pieces in an acidic juice.
  • Washing peaches will remove most of the fuzz.

[edit] Trivia and facts

  • The state of Georgia calls itself the "Peach State”.
  • Cosmo Kramer, a character on Seinfeld, eats a "Mackinaw" peach which is presumed to be a peach from the Western part of Michigan.
  • The peach is featured in the children's novel James and the Giant Peach.
  • Eat a Peach is the name of an album released by Georgia Southern Rock Band, The Allman Brothers Band.
  • T.S. Eliot, in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" asks "Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?”
  • Baseball player Ty Cobb was nicknamed "The Georgia Peach”.

[edit] Peach Lore and Legend

Chinese and Japanese legends hold peaches in high esteem Chinese legends attribute the peach with the power to confer immortality. The legend tells of the Peach Tree of the Gods which bloomed only once every three thousand years, yielding the fruits of eternal life. These illustrious fruits granted health, virility and immortality to those who ate of the fruit.

It is considered the most sacred plant of the Chinese Taoist religion. Even today, the peach is customarily served at birthday celebrations in China as a symbol and hope of longevity.

Japanese folklore tells of a beloved child born of a large peach who grew up surrounded by the love and devotion of his foster parents. When the child matured to manhood, he contested the demons on the Island of the Devils, winning their treasure for his destitute, beloved foster parents

[edit] Useful websites