The queen of all fruit has made her entrance early this year – about two weeks early in fact.
The queen of all fruit has made her entrance early this year – about two weeks early in fact. A tree-ripened Missouri peach is definitely fit for a king! This regal delicacy was appreciated by Chinese emperors, where the tree is native, and was cited in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th Century B.C. The English name was derived from the Latin name meaning “Persian apple.” It later became known as the pêche in French, and later, peach in English. The peach was introduced to the New World in the early 17th Century when George Minifie, a horticulturist from England, brought them to the American colonies. Commercial peach production began in America in the 19th Century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and Virginia. It now thrives in California, Washington State, South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri. The peach is low in calories and is also a good source of vitamin A. Peaches (Prunus persica) are classified by shape, flesh color and how firmly the flesh is attached to the pit. A clingstone peach holds on tightly to the pit and must be cut away. A freestone peach can be pulled away from the pit. Clingstones ripen earlier and are usually used for canning. Semi-freestones are hybrids of the clingstone and freestone. Peaches are either white- or yellow-fleshed. Nectarines are just peaches minus the fuzz. Here are some tips you can use to choose your tree ripened peaches. Look for an even background color of golden yellow for yellow fleshed peaches and creamy yellow for white fleshed peaches (the red blush does not indicate ripeness). Look for a well-defined crease as well as a slight give to the flesh. Peaches bruise easily, so don’t use your fingertips to check for firmness – hold the peach in your hand and gently squeeze to check. A tree ripened peach should smell as good as it tastes. Keep in mind that one pound of peaches is about three medium-sized or two large fruit. It takes about 10 peaches to make a 9 inch pie. One bushel of peaches weighs about 50 pounds. Whether you buy by the piece or by the pound, look for your locally grown, tree-ripened peaches now! One bite and you will feel like royalty.