Stone Fruits

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History

Peaches originated in China where they were cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture. Considered the favorite fruit of emperors, peaches were first mentioned in Chinese writings dating back to the 10th century. From China, the “Persian apple,” the translated Latin name, was introduced to the Romans by the Persians (now Iranians) and later introduced to Europe by Alexander the Great.

Peaches and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. The skin of nectarines lacks the fuzz (fruit-skin trichomes) that peach-skin has; it is thought that a mutation in a single gene (MYB25) is responsible for the hair or no-hair difference between the two.

Spanish explorers are credited with bringing the peach to South America and then eventually to England and France where it became quite a popular, but rare, treat. During Queen Victoria’s reign, it is written that no meal was complete without a fresh peach presented in a fancy cotton napkin.

Finally in the early 17th century George Minifie, a horticulturist from England, brought the first peaches to the New World colonies, planting them at his estate in Virginia. It was our early American Indian tribes who actually spread the peach tree across our country, taking seeds with them and planting them as they traveled these United States.

But it wasn’t until the 19th century that commercial peach production began in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and Virginia. Today, peaches are grown commercially in California, Washington state, South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri.

  • the number of hectares

    3 500

  • collected tons

    33 836

Types

Peaches are divided into three categories depending on the type of pit they contain.

Freestone:
Peaches in the “freestone” category have flesh that easily comes away from the stone. The different kinds of freestone peaches such as “Early Amber,” “Fay Elberta,” “Glohaven,” “Golden Jubilee,” and “Loring” tend to be large peaches with yellow flesh. Peaches with freestones are the most popular peaches for eating fresh. They also have firm yellow or white flesh with a sweet taste. They are not as juicy as clingstone peaches.

When it comes to the best peaches for baking, freestone peaches are ideal. Cutting through the peach allows the stone to fall out. So, they are easier to prepare for cooking than clingstone peaches. Use freestone peaches for freezing, canning, baking, and eating fresh.

Clingstone peaches:
As their name suggests, clingstone peaches have flesh that hugs tightly to the stone. In some varieties, it seems almost impossible to remove the pits from the flesh. Some common types of clingstone peaches include “Flordaking,” “Garnet Beauty,” “Halford,” “June Gold,” and “Ruby Prince.”

Compared to freestone peaches, clingstones have softer flesh that is juicier and sweeter. The flesh color tends to be yellow, making clingstone peaches more acidic than white freestone peaches. Because they are more difficult to eat fresh, clingstone peaches are rarely sold in stores. However, they are usually the type of peaches you’ll find in desserts, cans, jams, and jellies.

Semi-freestone:
Semi-freestone peaches are a hybrid of freestone and clingstone peaches. These types of peaches such as “Red Haven,” “Florida Dawn,” “Dixie Red,” and “Coronet” can be white or yellow peaches and have a tart to sweet flavor. Many varieties of nectarine peaches have semi-freestones.

Fun Facts

  • The life of a peach tree is about 15 years, and peaches don’t bear fruit during the first two years The trees produce some fruit the third year but bear the most peaches in years 4 to 15.

 

  • Georgia grows 130 million pounds of peaches each year, but California and South Carolina produce even more.

 

  • The United States grows 978,260 tons of peaches each year. That’s 1.9 billion pounds!

 

  • Peaches get their flavor from their variety, not their color.

 

  • Freestone is the most common peach variety (where the pit is easily removed), but other varieties include semi-freestone, white, clingstone and donut.

 

  • Peaches are packed with several major nutrients, including vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C and potassium.

 

  • One medium-sized peach contains just 38 calories.

 

  • Peaches are an excellent source of fiber, good for blood sugar and naturally fat free.

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