Legends and similar cultural significance existed in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam as well, and elsewhere around the world. Famous artists in Europe, for instance, depicted peaches' positive influence on one's life. A peach was viewed as a symbol of good health.
Spanish explorers introduced peaches to the Americas in the 16th century. Later, President Thomas Jefferson planted peach trees at his home, Monticello, but commercial production in the U.S. did not begin until the 19th century - in the states of Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and Virginia. Today the three largest peach-producing states are California, South Carolina, and Georgia.
Historically, Georgia has a long relationship with peaches. It is known as the "peach state," and having lived there for a year and a half early in my marriage, I am kind of proud of the fact I gave birth to a "Georgia peach." Our daughter was born in Georgia! The song below is cute. Give it a listen if you have time and want to know what it means to be a "Georgia peach."
There are two main varieties of peaches: clingstone (the flesh sticks to stone) and freestone (the flesh separates from stone).
The peach stone (pit/seed) is toxic and peach allergies do exist, but for most of us, peaches are a delicious way to get vitamins A and C. Other health benefits include: high potassium; low glycemic load (no sudden blood sugar spikes); cholesterol-lowering high fiber; cancer and heart disease prevention.
This evening I was catching up on some newspaper reading and was surprised to read on the front page an article about cancer and peaches! A food scientist (Giuliana Noratto) at Washington State University in the town were I live has been researching the effect of chemicals in peaches on breast cancer growth. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News, April 11, 2014)
To test, she fed peaches to mice with implanted breast cancer. The tumor growth was slowed, but what was more surprising is that the cancer cells died off. She recommends women with breast cancer add peaches to their diet. "This is equivalent to a 132-pound human eating three peaches a day," she said. The article goes on to say that Noratto is a firm believer the right nutrition can go a long way in treating ailments. I couldn't agree more!
"Peach Coffee Cake"
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
3 large peaches, peeled and sliced
--Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease heavy 9-inch baking pan (2 quart size).
--Cream butter and sugar until light (blended well). Beat in egg.
Sift dry ingredients together (a wire whisk is good for this). Beat half of dry mixture into creamed mixture, then beat in half of milk. Repeat with rest, beating well.
--Pour batter in prepare pan. Arrange peach slices on top. Bake 25 minutes.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger (or nutmeg)
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Cut ingredients together with pastry blender, fork, or wire whisk, until mixture is crumbly. Remove prepared cake from oven and immediately crumble topping over peaches. Bake for 8 minutes, or until cake is done. (Cake will pull away from edges when firm).
Yield: 8 servings. Best served warm.
Did you hear the joke about a peach?
by Elizabeth Adler (1989)
--The Peach Keeper
by Sarah Addison Allen (2012)
--Lucky Peach, Issue 9
by David Chang, Chris Ying, andPeter Meehan (2013) (nonfiction)
--The Peaches Monroe Trilogy
by Mimi Strong (2014)
by Jodi Lynn Anderson
--James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake
(2007) (ages 7 up)
--James and the Giant Peach (1996)
--Peaches (2004) (drama)
--Eat the Peach (1986) (comedy)
"Georgia Peaches" by Lauren Alaina (2011)