Peaches, the fuzzy fruit that just screams summertime! Its juicy flesh satisfies the parched palate and checks off all the nutritional needs for our bodies. With many varieties to choose from, you can find one that matches your taste for sweetness, texture preference and juice content. And, did you know that you too can grow your own peach tree? This and more “peachy” information is loaded in this month’s blog below. Go ahead, take a bite!
Summertime Peach Goodness
Peaches are just as nutritious as they are delicious! They are packed with great sources of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Peaches support healthy vision, skin, nervous system, and aids in heart health. They may provide anti-aging properties while supporting the body with the detoxification process. Peaches improve digestion, cellular growth and strengthen the immune system. Some of the nutrients found in peaches include:
- Vitamin A, C E and K
What really makes peaches a great snack choice is that they have less than 70 calories (1 large peach), 3 grams of fiber, and no saturated fat or sugar.
Smart Shopping for Peaches
It is best to buy peaches when they are in season from late June through August. That is when you can get them at the lowest price. When at your local market, check peaches for freshness using your whole hand, not just your fingertips, as you squeeze lightly. It should have some give to it. However, if you prefer you can buy peaches canned or frozen (same nutritional value as fresh), just be sure to watch for added sugars. It is best to find those packed in 100% fruit juice rather than in syrup.
As a SNAP client, you can use your EBT card at local farms or farmers’ markets and take advantage of the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) benefit, click here https://dtafinder.dtadash.ehs.mass.gov/hip/, to search locations on the DTA Finder Map. If you’re looking for a fun family activity, try picking your own peaches! Click this link for a listing of over 20 Massachusetts peach orchards, https://www.mass.gov/guides/pick-your-own-farms#-peaches-.
The Skinny on Peaches
While Georgia is “The Peach State,” California is the largest producing state of peaches. California grows over 50% of America’s peaches. The United States produces only 20% of the world’s peaches, where China is the largest. Peaches originated in China going back 3,000 years.
There are over 2,000 varieties of peaches. They are a part of the rose family and closely related to almonds. Most peaches are either considered red or white. What differentiates each variety is their naturally-existing sugar content and their firmness. White peaches are very tender. Peaches are known for their velvety skin and have yellow or white flesh inside. There are peaches that have smooth skin and they are known as nectarines.
A peach tree can grow up to 10-33 feet tall, but most orchards try to keep them to 13 feet with appropriate pruning. These trees can last for up to 12 years. The peach tree’s pink-petaled flowers bloom in early spring.
Peaches are stone fruits because of the hard pit that surround their seeds. The pit looks similar to a wood-like husk. Some varieties of peaches are characterized by how the flesh separates from the pit. There are those peaches where the flesh separates easily called freestone and those that stick to the stone called clingstone.
Grow Your Own Peach Tree
August 22nd is National Eat a Peach Day! Buy yourself some peaches and gobble them up! Save the pits! If you are willing to wait a few years, you could save yourself over $100 to have your own fruit-bearing peach tree in your yard. Include the whole family and follow these simple steps:
- Remove the outer shell of 3-4 pits
- Place each seed into a zipper storage bag. Add moist potting soil and zip the bag closed.
- Put the bags in the refrigerator to begin the seed’s germination process
- Keep the seed bags in the refrigerator until the roots have grown a half inch-takes about 2-3 months
- Once you see the roots, you can plant the seedling in a container, provide it with a sunny spot and moist soil
After the last frost, your seedling is ready for outdoor spring planting. Protect the tree from wildlife with tall cages. Remember to document your journey with your child.
Once you harvest your first fruits, you can enjoy peaches raw off the tree, in a smoothie, relish, chutney, salsa, compote or jam. And, on occasion perhaps a pie, cobbler, tart, pancakes or in homemade ice cream. Here’s one of the peach recipes that can be found in our Recipes section , Peach Salsa Recipe- https://www.foodhero.org/recipes/peach-salsa OR search for your own recipe here https://www.mahealthyfoodsinasnap.org/healthy-foods/recipes.
Fun Peach Activities to do with Children
Why not start with some fun activities from the nutrition experts at Team Nutrition and the Grow It, Try It, Like it! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables Curriculum Peach Tree Orchard Activity Book: https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/growit_book6peach.pdf
Boogie down to this Peaches Official Cover Dance Video by the Moonies on YouTube: https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/growit_book6peach.pdf
Further expand your child’s understanding of peaches in these educational children’s books on peaches:
- Peach and Blue, by Sarah Kilborne, 1998, for ages 3-7 years
- How to Eat a Peach, by Karen Schaufeld, 2019, for ages 3-10 years
- Peach Heaven, by Yangsook Choi, 2005, for ages 4-8 years
Peaches will sweeten your summer fun. Have your child help pick some peaches at the grocery store, farmers’ market or at the orchard. Together make a peachy smoothie or Sunday morning peach pancakes. Save those pits to grow your own tree. And, top off your August reading some of the peach book suggestions.
I wish you a peachy August! -Broc