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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

History of the Peach

You didn’t know the peach had a history, did you? Because today, August 24, is National Peach Pie Day (and who doesn’t love peach pie?), I thought I’d find out all I could about the summertime favorite, the peach. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

The peach (Prunus persica) is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach or a nectarine. The People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest producer of peaches. (I sure didn’t know the peach originated in China, and I thought the largest peach producer was the state of Georgia).

Peach and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. In contrast to peaches, whose fruits present the characteristic fuzz on the skin, nectarines are characterized by the absence of fruit-skin trichomes (fuzz-less fruit); genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. Source: Wikipedia.

The peach was brought to India and Western Asia in ancient times. Peach cultivation also went from China, through Persia, and reached Greece by 300 BC. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians. Peaches were well known to the Romans in first century AD, and were cultivated widely in Emilia-Romagna. Peach trees are portrayed in the wall paintings of the towns destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD, while the oldest known artistic representations of the fruit are in the two fragments of wall paintings, dated back to the 1st century AD, in Herculaneum, now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Source: Wikipedia

Spanish explorers in the 16th century brought the peach to the Americas, and the fruit eventually made it to England and France in the 17th century, where it was a prized and expensive treat. During Queen Victoria’s reign, peaches were served in fancy cotton napkins at the end of meals.

Spanish settlers brought peaches to Florida, where the Cherokee and Iroquois learned to grow them. Cherokee and Iroquois traders sold peach seeds farther west, and peach seeds crossed the North American continent to meet up with peach trees planted by Spanish settlers in Arizona and California.

The horticulturist George Minifie supposedly brought the first peaches from England to its North American colonies in the early 17th century, planting them at his Estate of Buckland in Virginia. Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and finally Virginia.

There you have it. If your mouth is watering as you consider eating a sweet, juicy peach, here’s an easy peach recipe I love to make. I don’t make pies because pie crusts are above my skill set. However, this recipe is so easy, even I don’t mess it up.

Peach Crostata

Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss 1 pound peaches, peeled and thinly sliced, with 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/8 tsp. ground ginger, and a pinch of salt. Unroll 1 refrigerated ready-to-use piecrust (for 9-in. pie) on cookie sheet. Arrange peach mixture on crust, leaving 2-in. border; fold border over filling. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden. Serves 4. Enjoy!
For something peachy keen to read while you’re enjoying your Peach Crostata, I recommend Amazon bestseller Letterbox Love Stories, Volume 1, nine love stories from nine international authors. The perfect summer reading all year long.

What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure!

From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter...


Melissa Keir said...

Peaches are so interesting because like the apples they can have a variety of flavors. Some are wonderfully memorable and others are more tart. Could be because of the need of picking them before ripening and shipping them to the stores.

What a fun post! And a yummy treat!

Paris said...

Loved the post! Peaches are a big favorite and we've been enjoying some very sweet ones, lately. Of course nothing beats warm peach pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream:)

stanalei said...

Wow! Lots to learn about peaches. And Yummm. Love peach pie.

Gemma Juliana said...

Another peach lover here, and in Texas we grow some great peaches, especially around Fredricksburg. Thanks for the peachy recipe, I'll definitely give it a try. Probably with a scoop of ice cream melting over it...

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, Melissa, Paris, Stanalei, and Gemma. Now I'm hungry for hot peach pie with vanilla ice cream.

jean hart stewart said...

Love peaches... a fun column....thanks...

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, Jean.

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