The peach is a member of the rose family. It was first cultivated in China and revered as a symbol of longevity. The image was placed on pottery and received as a gift with great esteem. Travelers along caravan routes carried the peach seed to Persia before it was cultivated in Europe. In the early 1600’s Spanish explorers brought it to the New World and by the 1700s missionaries had established peaches in California.
The average size peach has only 37 calories, and is a perfect summertime snack low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Available in both white and yellow varieties, peaches found in the produce aisle are generally freestone, with pits that readily twist away from the fruit. The other primary type of peach, the clingstone, has a pit that clings to the flesh and so is mainly used when canning.
A peach boasts 10 different kinds of vitamins: A, C, E, K and six of the B complex vitamins. Vitamin A and beta carotene helps you achieve optimal vision, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that is helpful to your immune system. The peaches provide lower levels of vitamins E and K.. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, vitamin K is essential to your blood clotting capabilities. Peaches are also a source of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid, all valuable nutrients when it comes to your cells and nerves.
Another important benefit associated with peaches is dietary fiber. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommendations, an adult woman should try to consume 25 grams and an adult man 38 grams of fiber each day; a peach offers three grams. Essential to easy digestion, fiber also plays a role in regulating cholesterol levels and so helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Peaches contain high amounts of potassium, which can reduce kidney-related diseases while lessening the risk of ulcers. Unfortunately, we consume many toxins every day with each bite of our daily meals, harming our kidneys. Peaches also provide some magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, iron, and calcium. These additional minerals protect and support your red blood cells, nervous system, and bones.
Selecting: When selecting fresh peaches, look for ones that are soft to the touch, blemish free, and have a fragrant smell. Peaches that are mildly fragrant ripen into sweet and delicious flavors. Choose fruit that has a background color of yellow or cream and has a fresh looking appearance. Peaches may have some red “blush” depending on the variety, but this isn’t a sign of how the fruit will taste after it’s ripened. At home peaches can be ripened at room temperature in a brown paper bag in 2 to 3 days. Peaches are highly perishable, so don’t buy more than you plan to use.
When selecting can peaches, choose those labeled “packed in its own juice” and “no added
sugar”; these are the healthier choices.
Storing: The best time to eat peaches is when they are ripe. If they need to be stored they should be stored out of the sun in a cool area or stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Peaches that need to be ripened can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, then ripened in a bag as stated above.
Ripe peaches taste best when they’re eaten at room temperature. So remember to take them out of the refrigerator one hour before eating. That way you’ll really enjoy their sweet and juicy flavor!
Use: Wash peaches carefully in cool soapy water, then rinse well before eating or using. If used in cooking they peel really fast if blanched in boiling water for a minute then plunged into ice water to cool. In fruit salads or platters, sprinkle cut peaches with lemon juice to help them keep their great color.
Flank Steak With Grilled Peach, Plum & Nectarine Salsa
Recipes courtesy of EatCaliforniaFruit.com.
In addition to steak, you can use the salsa on chicken, fish or pork or with grilled shrimp or scallops.
1 peach, pitted
1 red plum, pitted
1 nectarine, pitted
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
¼ cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 pounds flank steak
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
½ to 1 teaspoon chipotle or ancho chile powder
1. Cut each piece of fruit into 8 slices. Place the fruit and jalapeño on a well-oiled grill over medium heat and cook for a few minutes on each side, to lightly brown.
2. Let cool, then chop and place in a medium bowl with the onion, cilantro and lime juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Thoroughly tenderize the meat by pricking both sides with a meat tenderizer or fork.
4. Stir together the garlic salt, cumin, oregano and chili powder in a small bowl, and rub onto both sides of the meat.
5. Place on a grill over medium heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until the meat is cooked to your liking. Let it stand for 5 minutes before thinly carving at an angle against the grain.
6. Transfer the meat and juices to a platter. Serve with the grilled peach, plum and nectarine salsa.
Sweet Summer Fruit Bruschetta
This is a dessert bruschetta—a lighter, less sweet alternative to cake or pastry, and delicious with coffee or tea.
24 ¼-inch baguette slices
¼ cup softened butter
6 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped peaches
½ cup chopped plums
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped glazed walnuts
1. Lay the baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
2. Stir together the butter, 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar and the cinnamon, and spread on one side of each baguette slice.
3. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly and the bread is lightly browned on the edges.
4. Stir together the remaining brown sugar, fruit and lime juice in a small bowl. Spoon equal amounts over the bread slices and sprinkle
Best of Cooking, Denise