Summer brings with it an abundance of fruits, like peaches, that reach their peak of juicy perfection in the heat of July. Peaches are rich in antioxidants that help to maintain a great complexion. Antioxidants are substances that protect the body by eliminating free radicals, which cause cell damage and can contribute to aging.
The sun brings out free radicals in the skin and antioxidants protect skin cells by counteracting free-radical activity — so take a peach to the beach!
Fresh, high-quality peaches are sweet tasting and low in calories, as well as saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and high in vitamins A and C, dietary fiber, niacin and potassium. Since one medium peach is only about 37 calories, they’re also an excellent snack or guilt-free dessert.
There are more than 200 varieties of peaches, which are sometimes referred to as “stone” fruit due to their pits. Cling or clingstone peaches have a pit to which the flesh “clings.”
Freestone peaches have a pit from which the juicy, soft flesh is easily pulled away. There is no taste difference between freestone and clingstone peaches.
Some popular types of white peaches are the Sugar May, Scarlet Pearl, Southern Pearl and White Lady. The key differences between white and yellow peaches are their appearance and taste. The white peach has a pearl, pink-blushed skin, white flesh and pink seed.
White peaches are less acidic, resulting in a delicately sweet, juicy flavor containing essences of honey and vanilla, and finishing with a clean sweetness. White peaches are best eaten out of hand, as like most peaches they don’t improve with cooking.
The best way to choose a peach, whether white or yellow, is by the feel and smell, not the color. Look for peaches that are somewhat firm yet yield lightly to pressure when applied. When you can smell the sweetness of a peach, then you know that fruit is ready to eat.
Peaches are sensitive and should be handled with care and stored in a single layer, as they bruise easily. If unripe, store them in a paper bag. If ripe, they may be stored in the refrigerator for a week, depending on the degree of ripeness. For full succulence, bring them to room temperature and then enjoy both the flavor and aroma.
Avoid picking peaches that are extremely small, hard, soft or have wrinkled skin at the stem end. Peaches that have a green background are picked in an unripe stage and will not ripen well.
If you’re fortunate enough to have more peaches than you can eat, you can freeze them. Peel and slice the fruit and mix with one tablespoon each of lemon juice and sugar. Place them into a sealable storage bags and freeze for future use.
Peaches are available throughout the year. California supplies them from May to October, peaking in July. Washington peaches are available from July to September, while Chile supplies them the rest of the year.
Here are some fun facts about peaches:
• These “Persian apples” actually had their beginning in China, but were developed in Persia and went from there to Europe and then to America with the colonists.
• The nectarine and the peach are so similar that there is only one gene that separates the two to make them distinct. The nectarine has one recessive gene — the one with the fuzz.
• “You’re a real peach” originated from the tradition of giving a peach to your beloved friends.
• Most peaches are cultivated by grafting different combinations of rootstocks onto scions.
This recipe for Peaches and Cream Pops is a cool way to enjoy this fantastic fruit on a hot summer day.
Peaches And Cream Pops
1/2 cup peeled, chopped fresh peaches
1/3 cup peeled, pureed fresh peaches
2/3 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
Puree 1/3 cup of the peaches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Using a small bowl, mix together the peach puree, yogurt, honey and remaining 1/2 cup of peaches.
Spoon the peach mixture into 4 ice cream-pop molds and insert the handle. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her website is www.divapro.com. © 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.