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"Do I dare to eat a peach?"    T.S. Eliot

The peach (Prunus persica) is a species of Prunus native to China that bears an edible juicy fruit also called a peach. The scientific name persica, along with the word "peach" itself and its cognates in many European languages, derives from an early European belief that peaches were native to Persia (now Iran). The modern botanical consensus is that they originate in China, and were introduced to Persia and the Mediterranean region along the Silk Road before Christian times.

Peaches were mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th century BC and were a favored fruit of kings and emperors. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians.

The horticulturist George Minifie supposedly brought the first peaches from England to its North American colonies in the early 17th century, planting them at his Estate of Buckland in Virginia although the Spanish are often credited with introducing the peach to the South. Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century

Various American Indian tribes are said to have spread the peach tree across the United States, taking seeds along with them and planting as they roved the country. Today, California, Georgia and South Carolina are the largest producers of peaches in the United States.

Peaches are known in China, Japan, Korea, Laos, and Vietnam not only as a popular fruit but for the many folk tales and traditions associated with it.  Such tales may feature the legendary peaches of immortality, heroes born from a peach, epic battles, courtly love and promises of paradise. In China, the peach has mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and protection.

A medium size peach has about 35 calories - a perfect snack or dessert just as is. Peaches are fine sources of Vitamin A as well as C and E. They are a good source of fiber, making them a good choice for those trying to lose weight. They are also rich in phytochemicals which act as antioxidants, ridding the body of free radicals. Phytochemicals are critical for healthy skin and can be thrown out of balance in the body by exposure to the sun's UV rays.

Being extremely rich in vitamin A and potassium, and with good to excellent antioxidant activity, some antimicrobial activity and good to excellent tumor growth inhibition activity, peaches may help to prevent cancer.

Peaches should be stored at room temperature and refrigeration should be avoided as this can lessen the taste of the peach. Peaches do not ripen after being picked from the tree, so storing for ripening is not necessary.

Peaches will peel more easily if blanched for a minute in boiling water then plunged in cold water for a minute to stop the effect of the heat. Peaches discolor quickly when exposed to the air, so should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice, or a fruit "keeper" if not eaten or cooked immediately.


Seasonal Fruit Crisp (Good for Berries, Peaches, Apples, Everything!)