In Search of the Perfect Peach
I can't think of a fruit that I love more than peaches. These fuzzy fruits have always been special to me. I remember when I was a teenager traveling with my mom in Hungary, we had stopped by the market and happened to come across some beautiful white peaches. Of course it wasn't the first time I had eaten peaches, but it was the first time I had tasted a white peach. It was the best peach! Every peach since then has been held up to that standard. I've come close to having some bests, but none has been like that particular peach.
It's actually really funny that I like peaches. It seems genetically I was programmed not to like them. In my family, most members refuse to touch them because of their fuzz. My mom peels them. And I must confess I've also peeled a peach or two before eating, but I don't mind the fuzz. I just can't understand how anyone could let it get in their way of enjoying a lusciously juicy peach! There's no better experience when a peach is so ripe that the juices run down your arm as you bite in.
I love to get peaches at the farmers' market. Some of the best peaches I've gotten in New York City have been from Prospect Hill Orchards at the Tucker Square Greenmarket. They sell both yellow and white flesh peaches. But I always have a particular eye out for the white ones. Yellow ones are tart, tangy, and sweet. White peaches are less acidic, more mellow, and very fragrant. Peaches are available as freestones or clingstones, which simply differentiate how easy it is for the flesh to separate from the pit. If you're eating them raw, it doesn't really matter which ones you get. But you'll want the freestone variety for recipes like peach pie or cobbler so they're much less of a hassle.
It's hard to think that peaches weren't always a part of our American culture. Peaches actually originated centuries ago in China, though Europeans mistakenly thought they were from Persia. (The name "peach" is a derivation from the Latin for Persian apple.) Here in the States, peaches are mainly grown in California, New Jersey, and Georgia. Most farms have dwarf peach trees, which are created by grafting peach branches onto dwarf root stock. This makes it easy for picking. One of my favorite pick-your-own farms is Silverman's in Easton, Conn. Peach-picking with the family is a fun activity, especially when kids are included. And the best part is you can eat peaches while picking.
In my quest to find the perfect peach (again), I'll continue eating them all summer long. And I know one day soon I'll come across a peach that's just like the one I ate in Hungary so many years ago. Until then I'll bake some of my favorite peach desserts and can them and freeze them for extending the season into winter. There will be no mealy supermarket peaches for me. Juicy farm-fresh peaches all the way!
Recipes to Try
White Peach Sherbet