Splash Through Summer With Peaches
Sweet and juicy peaches are one of North Carolina’s finest summertime fruits. Though they are available year round, they taste best and are less expensive during the summer. In our state, the peach industry is unique, because it sells 90 percent of its crop on the fresh market, directly to the consumer, just days after being picked off the tree.
In 2014, North Carolina produced 4,380 tons of peaches (1,100 acres grown) totaling $6.2 million in value to the state’s economy. While our state may not be the biggest grower, it is surely one of the best (source: N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences). N.C. peaches are available from the end of May through August. They can be found at roadside stands, farmers markets, and retail outlets.
Besides their great taste, peaches are full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, and beta-carotene. Peaches are also low in calories, fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. One medium peach contains the following nutritional value:
|Dietary Fiber||1.5 g|
|Vitamin A||47 RE|
Peaches can be eaten fresh in salads and smoothies; as a topping for yogurt, ice cream, cereal, pancakes, or waffles; and as a filling for pies, tarts, cobblers, or strudels. They can also be grilled and served as a unique side dish with meat, fish, or poultry. Peaches are also available dried, frozen, canned, and as nectar, jam, or jelly.
For best quality, select peaches that are firm to slightly soft and free from bruises. The best sign of ripeness in a peach is a creamy or golden undertone, often called “ground color.” The rosy “blush” on a peach is not a good indicator of ripeness and differs from one variety to another. Fresh peach fragrance also indicates ripeness. Avoid peaches with a green ground color as they lack flavor and usually shrivel and become tough rather than ripen. Peaches that are picked green may develop more juice, but they will not become sweeter. When selecting canned peaches, look for those that are labeled “packed in its own juice,” “lite,” or “no sugar added.” These are healthier choices.
When cleaning and preparing peaches, wash them by rubbing them gently under running water. If a recipe calls for peeled peaches, dip peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge them immediately into iced water. The skins will slip right off.
Fresh peaches darken quickly when exposed to air. Prevent browning of fresh-cut peaches by dipping fruit into a mixture of one cup water and one tablespoon lemon juice. Store fully ripe peaches in the refrigerator, and for the best peachy taste, serve ripe peaches at room temperature.
The next time you’re in the mood for a healthy and delicious fruit, grab a peach! Summer just wouldn’t be the same without the sweet taste of North Carolina peaches.
Try this easy and delicious peach recipe:
Yield: 4 servings
- 1½ cups peaches, peeled and sliced, or 1½ cups frozen peach slices
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
- 2 cups milk
- 8-10 ice cubes (omit ice if using frozen peaches)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix well. Gradually add ice cubes and mix until finely crushed. Garnish with a dash of nutmeg.
For more information, please contact Tamika McLean, Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Associate with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Tamika_McLean@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.