is a rose,” but when is a rose not a rose? When it is a peach. If you do not already know, peaches are from the Rose family (Prunus), and are classified as a “stone fruit” or “drupe.”
From that classification, come two more – they are either a Clingstone or Freestone, (referring to how easily the flesh of the peach separates from the stone) and from there, several varieties within those two classifications. Looks like peaches are indeed, a class act!
Peaches have been grown since prehistoric times and were first cultivated in China. They are considered a symbol of long life and immortality and are found in paintings, decorations on porcelain, and are spoken of in poetry.
Peach seeds were carried all over the world, but were first grown in Persia before being transported to Europe. Because peaches came from Persia, the Romans gave them the botanical name prunus persica, meaning, again, a stone fruit or drupe. A drupe is a fleshy fruit, such as a peach, plum, nectarine or cherry, usually having a single hard stone that encloses a seed.
I read numerous stories on how the peach originated in the states, but none of them went as far back as this one in the 1600’s. I’m not sure of the accuracy of this story, but it was on the Dole website: Around 1629, the Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, ordered that peach seeds be imported to the American colonies. It is thought that the Spaniards brought the seeds over, and some of the first trees were planted in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and California. However, it wasn’t until the early in the 1800’s that peaches were grown commercially.
Here are some more peachy facts:
*Peaches are at their best when just ripe and at room temperature.
*A new hybrid was developed to reduce the fuzziness so now the skin is just downy soft.
*Scientists could not develop a fuzz-less peach, so a machine was invented to gently rub off the fuzz. Since that time, sales of peaches have shot up.
*Peaches do not ripen after picking, they only soften.
*Peach trees only survive about 20 years.
*Most of the vitamins of the peach are in the skin. So eat the skin when possible.
*White peaches are said to be superior in flavor.
*The red 'blush' on a peach is due the variety and is not a sign of ripeness.
*Remove the skin when baking with peaches, as it becomes tough when cooked.
*Peach kernels or seeds are used in making liqueurs, marzipan, peach jams, and jellies.
*Peaches are closely related to the nectarine.
*Try placing a peach slice in a glass of white wine for a nice fruity taste.
*Chinese believe the peach is a symbol of immortality.
*The peach is a member of the rose family and should have a pleasingly sweet fragrance. You should never squeeze peaches; they bruise easily.
*In 1870, Samuel H. Rumph, a Marshallville, Ga., peach grower, perfected a new peach variety, which he named Elberta, for his wife.
*Johnston, South Carolina is known as the Peach Capital of the World.
*Peaches were fed to hogs and used for making brandy in colonial America.
*“You’re a real peach” originated from the tradition of giving a peaches to your loved ones and friends.
Fresh peaches are just about gone, but there are still some coming in from other states so, now that you are a little more “peach-wise,” let’s get to the recipes!
Here are two of my favorites. (Don’t forget to can a few so that you can enjoy them this winter!)
Homemade Peach Ice Cream
1 to 2 quarts sliced peaches
1 quart sugar
1 quart cream*
1 lemon, squeezed
Puree the peaches in a blender. You will need at least one quart or more. Stir in sugar, then add lemon juice. Stir in cream. The cream can be all heavy whipping cream (for the richest of ice creams), or any combination of cream and milk that you wish. Put peach mixture in the ice cream maker container. Add milk to fill to fill container, if necessary. Freeze according to manufacturers’ directions. Store in freezer several hours to cure.
7 or 8 peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 t Cinnamon
1 pint fat free, low fat or regular sour cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 stick butter or margarine
Combine cake mix and butter with pastry blender. Press into 9" x 13" greased cake pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Spread peaches over baked crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Combine sour cream and egg, and drizzle over peaches (it will not cover them completely). Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
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