The magic begins with the subtle pink blossom of the spring tree, then the lush green growth of the summer canopy, and then if by magic the tree starts to groan under the weight of the voluptuous yellow orbs. The quick growing peach is bountiful and one of those fruits that needs to be eaten now!
Did you know?
The peach is native to China, and even today they produce some 58% of the total peach production in the world. In fact, cultivation of these fruit trees has been recorded more than 8000 years ago, and the trees were widespread across the Asian and Persian continent even back then.
In ancient Chinese literature peaches hold a mythical quality, drawn as symbols for immortality and fertility. Those that ate the juicy golden fruits were blessed with a long life, filled with plenty of pleasure. In fact, throughout literature peaches are often metaphorically written about as though they had the same qualities of voluptuous human flesh, or as a euphemism for all things sexual and explicit.
Under the variant rose tinted skin the best benefit is dietary fibre, with absolutely no cholesterol or fat contained in the flesh of a peach – not surprising. There is not as much vitamin C as an orange but more Vitamin A, and plenty of trace elements and vitamins. There is also plenty of natural fructose. If each peach is an average 150-175g then there is approximately 12-14g of sugar per fruit. This makes for excellent setting point of jams but all of the 157 kilojoules of the fruit comes purely from sugars. It is a decadent fruit and needs to be treated like so.
How To Buy
A ripe peach picked off the tree, has a fresh perfume scent, like a simple rose. This perfect ripe fruit will also have a softening in the flesh at the stem end. However, this fruit can also be picked not quite ready for eating and will ripen off the tree so can be kept in chilled conditions to reduce deterioration. This is often is how they are presented in store. Choose fruits that have full colour, even if still hard. Green fruits won’t change colour. Allow to ripen at room temperature, and allow them to rest without touching other fruit. The fruit bruise easily, so handle carefully.
How To Grow
Peach trees are not an easy fruit to grow, they can be inflicted by bugs, and air-borne fungus all attracted to the sweet sugar sap in the fruit and stems. The large trees are fast growing, like temperate conditions only, and won’t thrive in humidity, tropical heat or severe cold. They need plenty of cold chilling weather through the winter to encourage the bud burst in spring and will prosper in a dry summer. The average tree will be at its best for 8 years only.
How To Store
The trick with a peach as soon as it the season is in full bloom and the fruit has ripened to perfection, you want to be grabbing the jars, lids, and water bath to preserve a few for later. It is completely worth it come autumn and winter when you just want some beautiful peaches on your warm cereal. Ripe peaches need to be stored in cool conditions to prevent further ripening. Abundance of peaches can be easily made into jams or jellies or given to nice neighbours.
Peaches are a quick fruit to go rotten. Fungus or dry conditions or even a long stay in the fridge can turn peaches super quick from juicy and delicious to flavourless and a waste of time. As you have them, use them. Cook them in jams, syrups or even just peel and freeze chunks for peach melba smoothies. Bottling peaches is the ultimate way to preserve the flavour all year round. Pick while slightly under ripe and freeze for making jam and chutneys in the winter.
The flesh is delicate and needs little cooking. It pairs with other light flavours like equally delicate raspberries, any berries for that matter and almonds, soft ripened cheeses, salad greens and light desserts. All seafood, white meats like chicken will work well with peach flavours. It is desserts that the peach holds its own, enhancing any recipe with tangy, sweet freshness, especially peach melba, summer trifles, tarts and pavlovas.
The skin is edible but can become tough when cooking. Just like a tomato the skin can be removed by blanching the fruit for 30 seconds then plunging into icy cold water and the skin should peel away easy. Don’t leave them sitting in water though.
Make the most of in season peaches with our delicious recipes below: