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Peaches and Plums

It just isn't summer until you sink your teeth into a juicy peach! Here's how to enjoy sweet peaches at every meal.

The Story of Peaches

Peach season is a magical time. Deliciously sun-kissed and fresh from the tree, this fantastic fruit is eagerly awaited each year.

In the same family as the apricot, almond, cherry and plum, peaches are also closely related to nectarines. In fact, only one chromosome separates peaches and nectarines and both can sometimes be found growing on a single tree!

Peaches have been mentioned throughout history. Archaeologists have found bowls of peaches, revered as a potent symbol of immortality, entombed with Chinese dignitaries several centuries before Christ.

The peach is likely native to the part of China that is near the Pakistani border, a place where the fruit still grows wild. The Latin name for peach means "Persian plum" because the Romans imported it from Persia (now Iran) some 2,000 years ago.

In the New World, peaches date back to the 1500s, brought first to Latin America by early Spanish colonists. Peach trees have flourished in temperate parts of Canada almost from the time of the first European settlement.

Today, there are over 300 varieties of peaches. They are classified as freestone, which means the flesh separates easily from the pit, or clingstone, where the fruit clings tightly to the pit. Both are equally sweet and tasty.

Choosing, Preparing and Storing Peaches

Choosing Perfect Peaches

Look for fruit that's relatively firm, with a smooth skin and sweet aroma. Avoid wrinkled skin and excessively soft, bruised or blemished fruit. While the red blush of a peach is beautiful, it doesn't tell whether the fruit is ripe. Instead, look for a uniform yellow background color, (golden yellow on yellow peaches, creamy yellow on white peaches) with no green around the stem. Stay clear of green fruits as they were picked too early and though they will ripen, they will not sweeten.

Preparing Peaches

  • To remove the stone, cut along the centre furrow, delicately twist halves and pull to release from the stone.
  • For easy peeling, dip peaches into rapidly boiling water for 15-30 seconds and then plunge them into a bowl of cold water; slip off skin. Some peaches, such as the white flesh peach, are harder to peel; we recommend using a vegetable peeler.
  • To prevent browning, sprinkle peeled fruit with lemon or dip in a mixture of water and lemon juice (250ml water to 15 ml lemon juice: 1 cup to 1 tbsp).

Ripening and Storing Peaches

Have some firm peaches on hand? Simply allow them to ripen and soften at home at room temperature. Place peaches in the refrigerator only when they have reached your desired level of ripeness.

Ripe peaches should be kept refrigerated in a single layer for no longer than five days. Overripe (extremely soft) peaches should be used, fresh or in cooking, at once. Avoid bruising them as it accelerates aging.

Sliced peaches may also be frozen.

To freeze, peel, pit and slice. Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) fruit preservative to every 4 cups (1 L) of sliced fruit. Pack tightly into plastic containers, leaving 1-inch (2.5-cm) of air space at top. Top with a bunched up sheet of wax paper and seal tightly. Peaches can be frozen for up to one year.

Three things you should never do with peaches:

  • Washing them before storing them
  • Storing them in direct sunlight
  • Storing them in a plastic bag

Great Ways to Enjoy Peaches

Ripe and ready to enjoy during the summer months, peaches have yellowish-red skins and a mild sweet flavour. They're yours to enjoy over the hot summer months. Here's how:

  • Dice peaches, tomatoes, jalapeño pepper and onions and combine with chopped fresh coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper for a sweet and savoury peach salsa.
  • Drizzle sliced peaches with oil and grill until soft to serve with grilled pork chops for an easy summer supper.
  • Whip peaches into your morning smoothie or combine slices with honey and layer onto hot waffles for a delicious weekend brunch.

Serve peaches as part of a decadent summer dessert:

  • Topped with rolled oats and brown sugar in a peach and plum crisp, an old-fashioned favourite. Serve each piece with ice cream, frozen yogurt or whipped cream.
  • Sliced in half, coated with a mixture of honey, vanilla and white wine, and baked until tender. Serve with creamy vanilla yogurt for a light dessert.
  • Pitted and stewed in a saucepan with sugar and water until reduced for a lovely topping for pound cake, angel food cake or meringues.
  • Halved and pitted, brushed with a mixture of honey and cinnamon and grilled until warm. Cut into bite-size pieces and spoon on top of cheesecake to make Cheesecake in a Jar, the perfect individual desserts for your next special occasion.

Make a 3-Course Dinner with Peaches

Peaches pair with many different ingredients and can play a leading role from your starter to your dessert. Pick-up some in-season peaches and try out this decadent dinner!

To start, whip up this easy to assemble Tomato, Peach and Mesclun Salad. Bursting with freshness and bright flavours, it's the perfect dish for a hot summer night.

This main course shows off the delicious pairing of peaches and grilled pork. These delectable Glazed Pork and Peach Kebabs are sure to become one of your favourite summer dishes.

For dessert, peach pie is always a fantastic choice. This Peach and Almond Shortbread Tart elevates this classic summer dessert into something truly special.


Peaches for Healthy Skin

Proper hydration is essential to keep skin looking its best. Peaches, plums and nectarines are a great way to give yourself a hydration boost during the day. Because they're more than 80% water, they can help quench your thirst and satisfy hunger at the same time.

For a soothing, revitalizing skin treatment, try a Peach and Honey Mask. Peaches contain Vitamin A (489 IU in a medium peach), which may aid new-skin turnaround. Honey helps hold moisture to the skin and has long been hailed for its antibacterial properties.

Peach and Honey Mask

  • 1 large peach or nectarine, skinned
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt or lecithin powder.

Mash the peach and honey together and add a little lecithin powder or yogurt until you have a workable paste. Make sure to test the mask on a small area of skin first before applying to face. Pat evenly over face and neck and around the eyes. Lie back and relax for about 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, pat dry, tone and moisturize.

Nutritious peaches

Nothing says summer like a juicy peach dripping down your chin. And the best part? They are as nutritious as they are delicious! A medium-sized peach has just 50 calories, and is a source of fibre and vitamins A and C. For a sweet treat, try peaches on the barbeque, and add a dollop of vanilla yogurt.