Posted on 24 July 2014.
By Vicky Babcock
Who can resist the lure of a ripe peach on a summer afternoon? Not I, and certainly not my three-year-old grandson, who gorged himself on peaches while helping me pick and suffered not a whit. The sight of a peach still brings to mind that perfect summer day—Bryce’s face with bulging cheeks, the fragrant juice dripping slowly down his chin. He must have thought he was in candy heaven! He’s not alone—peaches are prized throughout the world.
Alexander the Great is credited with bringing the fruit to Europe after conquering Persia. Although peaches get their name from ancient Persia, they almost certainly originated in China, where they are highly prized. Peaches were brought to America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, although they were not commercially grown until the 19th century.
The Chinese held the peach tree in awe. It was considered a ward against evil spirits and an aid to immortality.
In Korea, the peach is seen as the fruit of happiness, riches, honors and longevity. The rare peach with double seeds is seen as a favorable omen of a mild winter. It is one in ten of the immortal plants and animals. (Wikipedia)
In Vietnam, where it is recognized as a sign of spring, it plays a part in their celebration of Tet.
Peaches are a low calorie choice, providing about 30 calories per medium fruit. A medium peach provides eight percent of RDA for vitamin c and about 140 mg. of potassium. If you can tolerate the fuzz, leave these lovely treats with the skin intact, as much of the nutritional value is contained in the peel.
All parts of the peach have their place in American folklore and folk medicine. It was thought that a baby that refuses to be birthed could be brought at once if the mother drinks tea made from bark scraped downward from a young peach tree. Peach tree bark scraped upwards is said to be a cure for vomiting and/or diarrhea.
A magical cure for warts involved cutting as many notches in a peach tree branch as one has warts. Peach tree wood is a favorite of many for making dowsing rods.
Kentucky lore holds that rubbing warts with peach leaves, then burying the leaves, will remove the warts. Peach leaves were also used in Colonial times as a cure for worms and Hohman recommends the flowers for the same. According to lore, eating a peach that has been pecked by a bird can lead to poisoning. Peach pits were used as a cure for “gravel” (kidney stones), to stimulate hair growth and as a remedy for drunkenness. Charms can be made from the carved stones as well.
Note: I include the folklore for color only. Consumption of peach pits strikes me as highly risky as peach pits, like many of the rose family seeds, contain traces of cyanide. If you plan to plant your own trees, you might want to consider this bit of folk wisdom shared by Vance Randolph. “In planting peach trees, it is always well to bury old shoes or boots near the roots.” He goes on to state that not far from Little Rock, Arkansas, he has known farmers to drive into town to search refuse piles for old shoes to bury in their orchards.
Okay, I’m hooked. Does anyone have an old boot?
Peach & sweet onion salad
6 ripe peaches peeled and sliced
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut across the center and sliced thinly
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups mixed baby salad greens, rinsed and crisped
2 cups fresh arugula, tough stems removed, rinsed and crisped
In a large bowl, gently combine the peach and onion slices. In a small cup, whisk together the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Pour over the peach mixture and toss lightly to coat evenly. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.When ready to serve, combine the baby greens and arugula. Divide among 6 salad plates and top each portion with the peach and onion slices. Drizzle with some of the juices from the bowl and serve at once. Makes 6 Servings.
Per Serving: 66 Cal; 0.0 g Total Fat; 16 g Carb; 0.0 mg Cholesterol; 17 mg Sodium; 449 mg Potassium; 4 g Dietary Fiber; 2 g Protein.
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