Native to China
Peach (Prunus persica) belongs to the rose family. Food historians believe that peaches originated in China, later spread to Europe, and were brought to North America in the 17th century by the Spanish. Peaches. Now recognized as Georgia’s state fruit, peaches began to be commercially grown in the United States in the 20th century.
Peaches are the most popular stone fruits. Stone fruit is any fruit with a pit in the middle, such as cherries, plums, nectarines (which are just peaches with smooth skin), apricots, and pluots, but also include dates, mangoes, coconuts, green almonds, lychees, and olives. Peaches have fuzzy skin and a large pit that encloses the seed and are classified either as a freestone, where the flesh can be easily separated from the pit, or clingstone, with flesh that clings tightly to the pit. The pits of most stone fruits contain cyanide. You can read more about it here.
Best From a Local Farm
Peach trees are shored-lived compared to other fruit trees. They are delicate and can be challenging to grow, which is why they can be a little expensive. Peaches also have a relatively short growing season, so enjoy them fresh while you can. There are U-Pick farm operations around the city, and you can find them in local farmers’ markets as well. Peaches were a part of every early homesteader’s fruit planting in our region of the county. By 1890, peaches were southeast Missouri’s most important commercial crop. Dried peaches were an important staple food during Missouri’s cold winters. Commercially grown peaches, such as those found in grocery stores and sold out of season, have been bred for hardiness and easy transportation, not flavor. For the most delicate and delicious stone fruit, head to your local farmers’ markets.
Grilled Peaches, Anyone?
Peaches are most delicious eaten fresh but are also popular baked in pies and cobblers, canned, even grilled and served with burrata cheese and Prosciutto, or added to peach Bellini cocktail. The yellow-fleshed varieties are especially rich in vitamin A. Peaches are number four on the Dirty Dozen list of fruit contaminated with pesticides. Wash them well or look for organic peaches.
Ripening and Storing
Even local peaches are picked slightly underripe, but they can be turned into fragrant fruit when left on a window sill or stored in a paper bag on the countertop. They will take two to four days to ripen. Like all stone fruits, peaches should be stored at room temperature, not in the fridge, as cold temperatures can damage their texture. And remember, do not squeeze peaches before you purchase them.
Cast Iron Upside Down Peach Cake
- 5-7 Peaches (Cut into thin wedges, pit removed. Cover peaches with lemon juice and set aside.)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 c Flour
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 tsp Baking powder
- 1/4 tsp Baking soda
- 1 c Granulated sugar
- 1/2 c Sour cream
- 1 stick Butter
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
- pinch Salt
- Gather your ingredients
- In a cast-iron skillet, cook ½ cup granulated sugar and half of the butter over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a deep amber color.
- The butter and sugar will turn a deep amber color when finished.
- Arrange the peach wedges in concentric circles over the sugar mixture, overlapping as needed.
- Mix the remaining ½ cup of sugar, ½ stick of butter, vanilla extract, flour, and sour cream until well blended.
- Spread the batter over the peaches in the skillet and cover evenly.
- Bake at 350F oven until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Enjoy and share your food with friends!
Peaches by Kelly Alexander
Call Number: 641.6425 ALEXANDE Publication Date: 2013
Martha Stewart’s fruit desserts: 100+ delicious ways to savor the best of every season by Martha Stewart and Johnny Miller
Call Number: 641.86 STEWART Publication Date: 2021
Simple fruit: seasonal recipes for baking, poaching, sautéing, and roasting by Laurie Pfalzer and Charity Burggraaf
Call Number: 641.64 PFALZER Publication Date: 2020
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