When we think of summer produce, peaches immediately come to mind. This archetypal stone fruit can be found baked in cobblers, eaten plain with the juice dripping down one’s chin, or even on the grill for a smoky-sweet dessert. But what are the origins of this classic summer fruit? The domesticated version hails originally from China, though it has now become a widely available fruit and an emblem of the state of Georgia. In fact, Georgia is known as “the peach state” because of the amount of the fruit that was produced there starting as early as 1571. There are a few varieties of this tantalizing soft-skinned ingredient, so we’re giving you the lowdown.
The color designation “white” refers to the inside flesh of the fruit. However, white peaches are also distinguishable from the outside, as they are both paler and pinker than their yellow counterparts. White peaches have a super sweet flavor and are more delicate, making them more prone to bruising. As a result, we recommend using them very simply, like in this summer-forward salad with tomato and burrata.
Yellow peaches are most likely what you picture when you dream of peach season. They possess a sticky, golden inside and are deep reddish orange on the outside. If eating fresh, make sure you give them adequate time to ripen (a brown paper bag for a few days does wonders), though you can use the less ripe ones to cook with—the heat will soften them and release their sugars, creating a delicious caramelization. We love pairing peaches with savory flavors, like grilled pork, as well as sweet (see: berry empanadas), proving that this summer fruit really is an all-star.
If you’ve seen this round, flatter variety, also known as a Saturn peach, you’ll understand why it’s named after a doughnut. They possess white flesh and a super sweet flavor. Also, it’s definitely very cute and is slightly less prone to dripping everywhere.
Freestone Peach vs. Clingstone Peach
As the name might suggest, a freestone peach refers to the relationship between pit (or stone) and fruit, meaning that the flesh of a freestone peach doesn’t cling to the stone, while a clingstone peach does. All peaches are categorized as clingstone or freestone and are labeled as such across varieties.
Although they are marketed and labeled separately, nectarines are actually almost genetically identical to peaches, except for their marked lack of fuzzy skin. Understandably, some don’t love that peach fuzz feeling. Like peaches, though, you’ll see nectarines in white or yellow, and of course, they are just as sensational to bite into come summer time.
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