All About Peaches
With their large round pits, peaches are considered members of the stone fruit family, along with their relatives plums, nectarines and apricots. Hailing from China, this fantastic fruit is routinely used in aromatherapy to soothe pain and stress. The next time youâ€™re feeling anxious, reach for a buttery, rich peach and savor the flavor and aroma! And remember to mark you calendar: August 22 is National Eat a Peach Day.
How itâ€™s grown:
- There are over 1,000 unique peach varieties! Less than 200 are grown here in the United States.
- Each peach tree will produce fruit for about 12 years. As peach trees mature, they require less water to produce fruit.
- In terms of climate, ideal peach-growing conditions involve a chilling season (below 45Â° F but above 0Â° F) followed by a period of warmer weather. Yields are best when trees are in full sun.
- For a tree to produce fruit, 2-4 years of growth are required. From the time the flowers are pollinated, an additional 3-5 months are needed to produce a peach crop.
- Peaches are primarily hand-picked, and discretion is required to determine which peaches are ready for harvest and which require additional growing time. Texture will continue to improve after harvest, but a peach picked too early will remain tarter and less fragrant.
How to shop for it:
- Yellow and white flesh peaches peak from mid-May to September (U.S. grown) or December to February (Chile grown). Saturn peaches are also grown from May to August in the U.S.
- Color does not necessarily indicate ripeness. Rather, assess ripeness by applying firm pressure near the stem. The fruit should give slightly when ripe (but be careful not to bruise it).
- Fragrance can also indicate ripeness; check the aroma at the stem end. It should be sweet and fragrant if ripe.
How to store it:
- If you purchase peaches that are not yet ripe, they will continue to ripen at room temperature. To accelerate this process, store peaches in a paper bag with a banana and place out of direct sunlight. Or, simply store at room temperature for 2-4 days.
- For ripe fruit, refrigerate in the crisper drawer, unwashed and unwrapped.
How to prepare it:
- Depending on the variety, the flesh will either adhere to the pit (cling peaches) or will easily separate (freestone peaches).
- Washed, whole peaches make great snacks with zero prep. Just bite into it like an apple, being careful to avoid the stone.
- To prepare pitted halves, use a small paring knife to cut across the center of the fruit, making contact with the pit as you gently turn the peach. Twist to separate halves and remove the pit using a spoon.
- To quickly peel a peach, slice off a small piece of the bottom of the fruit, and then place in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer quickly to a bowl of ice water, then remove from the water and quickly peel the skin away from the fruit in strips.
How to eat it:
- Quickly prepare savory grilled peaches. Halve and pit the peach, brush the cut sides with canola oil and grill until marks are visible. Drizzle cut sides with honey and balsamic vinegar and enjoy!
- Peaches are a perfect addition to oatmeal. Have you ever tried overnight oatmeal? In a mason jar, combine Â˝ cup rolled oats, Â˝ cup almond milk, Â˝ cup diced peaches, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon chia seeds and ÂĽ teaspoon cinnamon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight for a quick and nutritious breakfast.
- Make a quick frozen yogurt by combining 4 cups frozen sliced peaches, 3 tablespoons honey, Â˝ cup plain nonfat yogurt and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and serve!
- Try a unique take on grilled cheese by using thinly sliced peaches, white cheddar and a slice of prosciutto.
- Are you a fan of peach pie but want to cut down on calories? Toss old-fashioned oats with a small amount of canola oil, cinnamon and brown sugar and toast lightly on a baking sheet. Sprinkle this topping over a bowl of sliced fresh or canned peaches.
- Peaches are a good source of vitamins A and C, both important antioxidant nutrients.
- A large peach contains less than 70 calories and offers an impressive 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Peaches are naturally gluten-free, low-sodium and contain no cholesterol or saturated fat.