Weatherford Democrat

Columns

July 14, 2013

Extension news: Peaches - a tasty summer treat

By KATHY SMITH

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without Parker County fresh peaches. Now is the time to enjoy juicy peaches. Farmers’ markets, roadside stands and grocery stores are loaded with blushing, sweet, fragrant peaches. With the perfect combination of flavor and nutrition, peaches can be enjoyed in appetizers, desserts and everything in between.

Peaches were probably the first fruit crop domesticated in China about 4000 years ago. Peaches were moved to Persia (Iran) along silk trading routes. In fact, the epithet persica denotes Persia, which is where Europeans thought peaches originated. Greeks and especially Romans spread the peach throughout Europe and England starting in 200-400 BC. Peaches came to the new world with explorers of the 16th-17th centuries, with the Portuguese introducing it to South America and Spaniards to the northern Florida coast of North America. Native Americans and settlers distributed the peach across North America into southern Canada, and it is cultivated in two-thirds of the 50 states today.

One medium peach has about 40 calories and about 10 grams of carbohydrates. Peaches contain many important nutrients, including vitamin A in the form of beta carotene which has been linked to a reduced risk of some forms of cancer, and riboflavin which is good for the eyes. They are also a good source of fiber. And peaches are one of the lowest-calorie fruits with virtually no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

The best peaches to eat are the fresh. However, they are also delicious when they are frozen, canned and used in a variety of ways. Now is the time to add a slice of peach to a bowl of cereal to enhance the flavor and nutritional value.

Peaches do not get any sweeter once they are picked. They do get softer and juicer, but never sweeter. That is why it is important to avoid rock hard peaches that were picked when they were still green.

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