Peaches (prunus persica) are deliciously sweet. Depending on the variety, they range in color from creamy-yellow to rosy-red with a single large seed or pit (inedible) much like cherries, plums, and apricots. Peaches, native of China, have a juicy flesh and fuzzy exterior. They come in two main varieties—clingstone, where the flesh clings to the pit, and freestone, where it separates freely.
The Benefits of Peaches
Peaches, as most fruits, are naturally low in fat and saturated fat. They are sodium free and cholesterol free. Note: all non-animal based food is cholesterol free, in case you’ve wondered why juices sometimes say “Cholesterol free!”
One large peach (~1 cup sliced) has 68 calories, 3 grams of satiating, digestive boosting dietary fiber (about 10% of daily value (DV) in a 2000 calorie per day diet), 19% DV of immune boosting, antioxidant-rich vitamin C, and 11% DV of vision enhancing vitamin A. In addition, all “stone” or pit fruits contain bioactive components (anthocyanins and quercetin) that may help fight metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that raise the risk of diabetes and obesity-related heart disease. Moreover, a small study showed that peaches may influence breast cancer cell death, because of their high content of phenolic acids.
How To Pick a Peach
Peach season runs from May until October, and August is Peach Month. Choose peaches with firm, fuzzy skins that have a slight whitish “glow,” yield to gentle pressure when ripe, and have a subtle sweet scent. Avoid ones with blemishes. When it comes to peaches, the lighter colored variety has approximately 6 times more antioxidant content that the pinkish variety. As peaches are on the dirty dozen list, meaning conventionally-bought peaches will be high in pesticide content, I recommend buying organic or local. Or opt for frozen organic peaches; they are great for your health (and your wallet).
How to Store & Prepare
Store unripe peaches in a closed paper bag to concentrate the ethylene gas and help ripen. When already ripe, store at room temperature for use within 1-2 days.
Wash in cold running water just before using. Fresh ripe peaches should be enjoyed with the skin. That said, some recipes may fair better when the skin is peeled, which can be done easily using a knife – think of peeling an apple!. And just like an apple, peaches will brown if left exposed to air. If you are serving them sliced, make sure to add a few drops of lemon or lime to delay browning.
Ideas on How to Cook & Serve
- Sliced In A Salad. As pictured, peel and pit peaches, mix with fresh mozzarella, and add basil or mint leaves. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and crushed pepper to taste. Another delicious salad involves tossing peaches with spinach, toasted walnuts, and a little sprinkle of blue cheese. Mix in extra virgin olive oil for a richer taste.
- Diced In A Salsa… and served with fish tacos. Enough said.
- Enjoy a Peach Fizz. Muddle fresh or frozen peaches at the bottom of the glass and add seltzer or flavored seltzer.
- Bake, Broil, Sauté or Grill. For a delicious side dish or snack, warm peach slices by using any of the above cooking methods. Cut pieces for a peach kabob! Spices easily add variety; for instance, add cinnamon for a sweeter twist or crushed pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
- Smoothielicious. Mix fresh or frozen peaches into a smoothie. I love mixing peaches with half a banana, almond milk, and a dash of nutmeg. Yum!
- A Breakfast Revelation! Peach slices are a great addition to hot or cold cereals, plain Greek yogurt, or even as a topping for whole grain pancakes or waffles. Hold the sweeteners!
- Grab & Go Trail Mix. Add dried peach slices to nuts and/or seeds for a satisfying, healthy snack. Just watch the portions!
- Bellini Cocktail (in moderation). Place 1 to 2 TBS of pureed peaches at the bottom of a champagne flute. Add prosecco and voila, you’ve got a fancy cocktail.
Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD
Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr
Edited by TCabrarr