1. What exactly is a peach?
The peach (Prunus persica) is a deciduous tree native to China that bears an edible juicy fruit also called a peach.
The scientific name Persia, as well as any variations of the word “peach,” came from the word “Persia” because peaches were thought to have originated in Persia, or modern Iran. The Romans called the peaches “Persian Apples,”naming them after the country that introduced peaches to the West.
The tree belongs to the family Rosaceae (the rose family), subfamily Prunoideae, genus Prunus, and subgenus Amygdalus (having a corrugated seed shell like an almond).
The fruit is a drupe, with a single reddish-brown, oval-shape, 1.5-2 cm long seed encased in hard wood. this seed may also be called the “stone” or the “pit.”
2. What Is the True History Of The Peach?
Actually peaches originated in China, where they have been cultivated since 1000 BC. Today China remainsthe largest world producer of peaches.
Even today in modern China peaches have special significance and “mystical attributes,” such as the ability to bring luck, abundance and protection. Peaches also symbolize immortality and unity. Peach blossoms are carried by Chinese brides.
Peaches traveled west via the silk roads to Persia, earning them the botanical name Prunus persica. In Persia, peaches were discovered by Alexander the Great, who introduced peaches to the Greeks around 320 BC.
By 50 BC., Romans grew and sold peaches for the modern equivalent of $4.50. Once the Romans cultivated the fruit, they were able to transport it north and west to other countries of their European empire.
3. Where are peaches grown, other than China?
Italy, particularly the regions of Campania and Emilia Romagna, is the second largest producer of peaches and the main exporter of peaches in the European Union;
Spaniards brought peaches to South America and the French introduced them to Louisiana. The English took them to their Jamestown and Massachusetts colonies. Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages.
In the United States, California produces more than half of the peaches grown…even though so many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.
4. What are a few of the over 700 varieties of peaches?
- Clingstone…the flesh sticks to the stone…generally used for canning
- Donut…flat with rounded sides that draw in toward an indented center, like a doughnut without a hole…a descendant of the flat Chinese peach
- Freestone…the flesh does not stick to the stone…the kind generally found in supermarkets.
- pêches de vigne...considered to be the finest peaches of all…small, red-fleshed…covered with grayish down…grown in vineyards in France and generally found only there
- Saturn…a flat variety that resembles the rings of Saturn
- White…typically sweeter and less acidic…most popular in China, Japan, and neighbouring Asian countries,
- Yellow…have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness… most popular kinds in Europe and North America
5. How nutritious are peaches?
Peaches are a good source of vitamin A (11% RDA), vitamin B(10%), vitamin C (19% RDA), potassium (10% RDA), and fiber (3 grams, 10% RDA).
Now for a few recipes…