Delicious, nutritious and wildly popular, peaches are in season now. If you are like me you probably have a childhood memory of eating a perfect, incredibly juicy peach with all of its downy skin. The nutritious peach is a great summer treat packed with vitamins, fiber and lots of antioxidants. With only sixty calories in one large peach and 2.4 grams of fiber, the peach is a great fit for any summer diet.
Peaches are native to China from where they spread to rest of the world via the ancient silk route. Technically, the fruit is a “drupe” having similar features of the other members of the genus prunus including plums, nectarine, almonds and damson. 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 have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness.
What is the nutrition in a peach?
Peaches are a good source of Vitamins A and C which are potent antioxidants and important for the immune system. They are also rich in phytochemicals, essential for ridding the body of free radicals. Phytochemicals are also important for healthy skin, and can add color to the complexion. So the old saying of a peaches and cream complexion isn’t so far off the mark! Peaches also have s small laxative effect and a powerful diuretic effect and are often recommended for people suffering from rheumatism and gout.
How to choose a peach
Look for peaches with a creamy to gold undercolor that indicates ripeness. The amount of red on peaches depends on the variety; it is not always a sign of ripeness. Look for fruit that has a well-defined crease, a good fragrance, and a slight give to the flesh. Unripe peaches have a green undercolor and will never ripen. They should also be heavy for their size. I know this might sound odd, but if you start picking up several different fruits you will quickly understand this concept.
How to store peaches:
Like many fruits, peaches have a tendency to degrade quickly if not properly stored. Store peaches on the counter at room temperature until they are the ripeness you prefer. Like most other stone fruits you can ripen them faster by placing them in a paper bag with a banana. When ripe peaches should be stored in plastic bags in the crisper bin of your refrigerator and will keep for up to five days. Refrigeration can lesson the flavor though, and the peach is best enjoyed at room temperature.
What are some new and interesting ways to use peaches?
- Juice them—Peach juice is nectar from the Gods according to the Romans. It also freezes well. Peach juice alone can be rather thick so try diluting with a little water, lemon or apple juice. This also pairs well with champagne.
- On the grill – Combine 2 T brown sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon in small bowl. Half peaches, brush with vegetable oil, and grill cut side down about 3 minutes or until there are grill marks. Turn, sprinkle with brown sugar mixture and grill another 6-8 minutes until soft. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
- Spicy summertime salsa – Dice one peach, one kiwi, and 4 strawberries and place in small bow. Add ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced, one chopped green onion, 1 T lime juice, a pinch of salt and cilantro to taste. Toss gently and chill before serving.
- For those with a sweet tooth there’s always compotes, crumbles, crepes, or try a peach upside down cake.
To take advantage of these seasonal treats try this mouthwatering recipe of baked raspberry stuffed peaches. I’m thinking a scoop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t hurt! ~Enjoy~