We can't get enough of summer's sweet, juicy peaches. While they may be the official fruit of Georgia, New York grows more than 2,000 acres of peaches. This stone fruit is in season locally from about July to September.
Peaches are thought to have originated in China as early as 2,000 B.C. They were carried on the silk road to be traded in Persia. The first literature about peaches dates back to 550 B.C. Peaches often appear in Chinese paintings because they symbolize immortality and friendship.
Peaches are in the rose family and are also related to nectarines, cherries and almonds. If you pop out the peach pit, it looks like an almond! Cultivated peaches are divided into clingstones and freestones, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the stone or not; both can have either white or yellow flesh. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with little acidity, while yellow-fleshed peaches typically have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness, though this also varies greatly. Both colors often have some red on their skin.
Storage & Preparation
Choose peaches that are firm, plump, and fuzzy. The flesh should yield to gentle pressure but shouldn’t bruise easily. Don’t select peaches that are green, extra hard, or blemished. Peaches can be ripened on a window sill or kitchen table at room temperature inside a paper bag. Once they reach the perfect ripeness, eat them immediately or refrigerate them for up to 2-3 days in an unsealed plastic or paper bag.
To prepare your fresh, ripe peaches for cooking, gently wash, peel, and remove the pit. Peeling peaches is easy if you blanch them. Blanching simply means dipping the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds and then dipping them in a cold water/ice bath. The skins will come right off, leaving juicy pink, orange, or sometimes white flesh. Use lemon juice to avoid browning. Or wash and eat whole!
Peaches are packed with antioxidants which help protect our bodies against aging and disease. One medium peach is full of vitamin A and C as well as riboflavin and beta carotene. They are naturally low in calories and are sodium-free and fat-free.
Cooking Ideas & Recipes
Peaches can be used in desserts such as pies, puddings, cobblers and shortcake. They are also terrific in savory recipes from barbecue sauces to salsas and chutneys and even salads. Top pancakes or yogurt with peaches for breakfast. To preserve a taste of summer for months to come, can peaches. We love them eaten fresh out of the hand!