What is so special about peaches and why do we love them so much? Since August is national peach month, we thought it would be fun to explore the history and facts of this delicious fruit.
Peaches are a good source of vitamins A, B and C and a medium peach contains only 37 calories. Like the plum and the apricot, the peach is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), distinguished by its velvety skin. It is classified as a drupe, a fruit with a hard stone. You can buy two main varieties of peaches: clingstone and freestone. It is harder to remove the flesh from the pit on a clingstone peach. The flesh of a peach should have a slight give, but use your whole hand vs. fingertips to check. Peaches are at their peak from June to the end of August.
Nectarines are a variety of peach with a smooth skin, not a cross between a peach and a plum. A peach pit contains hydrocyanic acid, which is a poisonous substance. You can ripen peaches by placing them in a brown paper bag for two to three days. Sliced, fresh peaches should be tossed in lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.
The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. It has special significance in Chinese culture: the peach has mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection. True wild peaches are only found in China. Unlike the cultivated fruit, the wild fruit is small, sour and very fuzzy. China is the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. There are over 700 varieties of peaches-some Chinese varieties are even flat like hockey pucks.
Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages. Peaches are the third most popular fruit grown in America today.The United States provides about one-fourth (25%) of the world’s total supply of fresh peaches. Although Georgia is known as the Peach State, California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties) with New Jersey and Pennsylvania placing 2nd and 3rd in production, respectively.
The peach tree is considered to be the tree of life and peaches are symbols of immortality and unity. Peach blossoms are carried by Chinese brides. The Romans called the peaches “Persian Apples” naming them after the country that introduced peaches to the West. Spaniards brought peaches to South America and the French introduced them to Louisiana. The English took them to their Jamestown and Massachusetts colonies.
So if all this talk of peaches has your mouth watering and you are now plotting a spot in your yard to plant a peach tree, have a look at our selection and please email us if you need help in choosing a variety or have a question. Happy Gardening!