Peachy Keen

Pick The Perfect Peaches

Succulent and sweet, fragrant and juicy, peaches are among the most anticipated of all summer fruits. They are the epitome of summer produce perfection. There's nothing quite like biting into a sweet and succulent peach, and whether it's freestone or clingstone, yellow-fleshed or white, a perfectly ripened peach is a true summertime sensation.

First cultivated in China and revered as a symbol of longevity, cultivated peaches are pided into two varieties, freestone and clingstone, depending on whether or not the flesh of the fruit sticks to the pit. While both clingstone and freestone peaches can be either white or yellow in color, yellow-fleshed peaches are known to have a sweet taste with a slightly tart tang, while white flesh peaches are typically very sweet, with very little of the acidic flavor that the yellow peaches are more commonly known for.

Within the clingstone and freestone categories their lies an array of sweet and succulent peach varieties, each with their own unique qualities in color, flavor and texture. In fact, the blush on the skin of a peach is an indicator of variety—and not ripeness.

Smelling the peach is a great way to test for ripeness—it should have a sweet and pleasant aroma when ripe. Squeezing peaches to test for ripeness is never a good idea, as their velvety flesh bruises easily. They should be soft to the touch, but not mushy. To ripen firm peaches, simply place the fruit in a brown paper bag on the kitchen counter for a day or two. Low in calories, free of cholesterol and a good source of beneficial vitamins and nutrients like fiber and Vitamin A, peaches are the perfect healthy summer snack.

Spectacular for eating out of hand, peaches' sweet flavors and vibrant, lovely colors make them a delightful addition to a summertime fruit salad. Fill a salad bowl with diced peaches, cantaloupe and watermelon, some juicy halved grapes and some sliced strawberries and you have the makings of an incredibly sweet, incredibly healthy salad that is just bursting with a range of healthy nutrients, from beta-carotene to Lycopene. Peaches are also fantastic added to smoothies, or diced and sprinkled over cereal or yogurt for a sunny start to the day. And if you're looking for an incredible dish to serve alongside dinner, grilled peaches are simply sensational with any savory entrée, and are fantastic served with vanilla ice cream for a simple and sophisticated sweet summer treat.

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