Prunus persica (L.) Batsch
Peach and nectarine are the same species that are commercially sold as different fruits.They are nearly alike in size, texture and colour, but peaches have a characteristic fuzzy skin and nectarines have a shiny and smooth skin.The fuzz on peaches is due to the presence of hairs botanically known as trichomes. Since consumers do not like the fuzz, commercially grown peaches are mechanically brushed after harvest to remove the fuzz. You can find real fuzzy peaches at the farmers markets and roadside stands.
Several genetic studies have concluded that nectarines are produced from a recessive gene and the fuzzy peach from a dominant gene (allele). Nectarines have also, arisen, many times from peach trees, often as bud sports. Nectarine and peach trees are virtually indistinguishable.
The peach probably originated in China. It was introduced to the middle East, and European countries before Spanish explorers brought them to the new world.
The peach is the third most popular fruit grown in the USA after apples and oranges. It’s is now grown in over 30 states in the USA with California being the largest producer. China is the largest producer of peaches, followed by Italy, Spain, USA, Greece, Turkey and Iran
The difference among varieties is minor. Modern varieties of peaches are larger and firmer. Some have white flesh but yellow fleshed varieties are preferred.
Older varieties e.g “Elberta, ‘Hale’ and ‘Rio Oso Gem’ have flesh with tender ‘melting’ texture but are not common in supermarkets. They are found Farmers Markets.
The common peach varieties are: ‘Elegant Lady’, June Lady’ ‘Flavorcrest’ and ‘Red Top’
The peach fruit may be a clingstone, free stone or part freestone.
- Freestone: the flesh separates readily from the seed (pit). Nearly all freshly sold varieties are free stone. These peaches are softer and juicier than clingstone varieties.
- Clingstone: the flesh clings tightly to the seed (pit). Clingstone peaches are mostly used for canning.
- Part freestone/ clingstone: also called semi-free stone. They are midway between clinging and free, so can be separated but with some effort.
Availability: April-October. (Peak in July-August). Peaches imported from Mexico Chile and New Zealand are available November-April.
- Peaches have juicy flesh whose colour ranges from white to intensely yellow. Nectarines are generally sweeter than peaches.
- They can be used fresh, frozen or canned, as a snack, added to salads, desserts, cereals and cooked dishes.
- They provide a reasonable amount of vitamin C.