Originated in China, the peach tree is considered the tree of life and figures prominently in celebrations. Brides carry peach blossoms and the fruit typically make appearances at birthdays and for New Year. The wood of the peach tree is used for amulets and when worn around the neck, the peach pit is thought to drive off lurking demons. Peaches are one of the "Three Blessed Fruits" in Buddhism and symbolize longevity.
There are both clingstone and freestone varieties of the fruit, indicating whether the flesh adheres to the pit. Likewise, there are white and yellow-fleshed varieties. The Red Baron, with its firm and juicy yellow flesh can be enjoyed fresh and cooked. The Rich Lady is popular for desserts and ice cream. The Donut, named for its sunken middle appearance, is mildly sweet with a hint of almonds and is perfect for salsas or halved then grilled. Nectarines are a variety of peach but are distinguished by their smooth skin and sharper flavor.
Rumor has it that opera singer Dame Nellie Melba lent her name to the legendary dessert created by Escoffier in her honor. Other popular uses include preserved jams, jellies, and chutneys as well as peach puree topped off with prosecco in a Bellini. Some would argue that a peach is best enjoyed over the sink with its juices running down your chin and arm.
Avoid buying peaches exhibiting any green skin. This indicates they were picked before maturity. The fruit should be fragrant, highly colored, and have some give when cradled in your hand. Peaches should be stored at room temperature or can be kept up to a week in an open paper bag in the refrigerator.
Please join us for August’s tasting menu celebrating one of our favorite stone fruits.