Because peaches and nectarines are technically the same fruit (both are Prunus persica) but only differentiated for the sake of rearing a commercial crop, the two have been joined in this entry.
Origin of Nectarine and Peach
Peaches are an ancient fruit, believed to originate in China over 4,000 years ago. During the silk trade between China and Persia, the fruit migrated to the Middle East. From Persia’s soils, the Romans and Greeks took the juicy peach to Europe sometime around 300 and 400 BC.
According to the book, “A History of Sino-Indian Relations,” peaches likely came to India during the Eastern Han period from 25-200 AD, though they were perhaps here as early as Zhang Qian’s visit to Bactria circa 126BC. The Mughals were especially fond of peaches. As written in “Mughal Gardens,” records dating from 1650 mention the fruits growing in the royal gardens of Sirhind and Lahore. Commercial cultivation of peaches, however, only came about during the latter half of the 19th century.
Today, the largest producers of peaches are China, Italy, the US, Spain, Greece and Turkey.
Availability of Nectarine and Peach in India
The subtropical growing conditions required for the fruit relegate its location to the northern regions of the country. A few of the southern hill stations grow peaches, but on a small, limited scale. Some peach varieties grow well in the drier, temperate areas—such as Jammu and Kasmir—while other sub-tropical variants, like nectarines, grow best in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
The peach and nectarine varieties growing in India are as follows:
Jammu and Kashmir: Prabhat
Uttar Pradesh: Rehaven, sunhaven, quetta, july, peshwari
Himachal Pradesh: Alton, world’s earliest, early white giant, redhaven, stark, red gold, early candor
Low hills and plains: Flordasun, shan-e-punjab, early amber, prabhat, flordaking, sharbati
Punjab: pratap, flordasun, shan-e-punjab, khurmani, sharbati, red sun, red (nectarine)
A variety of wild peache called kateru also grows in Himachal Pradesh. These peaches are prized for their late season growth, as they fruit until October’s end. Currently, researchers are exploring the feasibility of grafting other peach varieties with katerus as a way of extending the season.
Peak peach season is from early April to late June, and a few exceptional varieties grow a few weeks before and after these months.
Where to find Nectarine and Peach in India
Peaches have stiff competition with mangoes for a place on the market shelves. Given the unfortunate timing, many Indians do not give peaches a second glance and instead, gravitate towards rich, creamy mangos.
That said, it’s possible to find peaches in the northern bustling cities of Delhi and Mumbai to the quiet rural areas of Kashmir.
If visiting India’s southern cities during the summer, expect to be disappointed. The peaches and nectarines that arrive in the south tend to be of inferior quality: They’re dull yellow, small, hard, and sour. These fruits have a long way to go before they reach their bright, luscious and chin trickling potential.
It’s possible to find canned peaches and jam by visiting stores catering to expats. These goods tend to be imports, as it’s exceptionally rare to find the words “peach” and “India” on the same product label.
|Himachal Pradesh from|
Checking for Ripeness in Nectarine and Peach
Nectarines and peaches, with their heavenly floral aroma, make their ripeness known to anyone standing within two feet of them. A good peach engages all of the senses: Start by holding the fruit to the nose, and inhale deeply. A ripe peach has a sweet, musky scent worthy of its replication in lotions and perfumes. Next, feel the peach: both peaches and nectarines have a velvety texture that becomes softer when it ripens. A good peach also gives to the touch, but should not have overt dents or bruises. The color of peaches and nectarines should be bright, in colors of red, orange or orange-yellow.
Avoid hard, dull, greenish yellow fruits—they are underripe. Likewise, avoid spoiled peaches, as evident by marks, bruises, or mold.
Be a little more forgiving of a peach’s appearance if it’s organic. A wrinkle or two, coupled with minor dents, do not adversely affect its flavor.
Taste of Nectarine and Peach
The taste of peach and nectarine depends on the variety. Yellow flesh fruits have a vibrant, sweet, smooth flavor mixed with varying degrees of tartness. Peaches possess notes of honey and vanilla, and they have the same pleasant floral muskiness as guava. Like its cousin, the apricot, a peach’s taste is utterly distinct.
White flesh peaches, on the other hand, have a milder, flatter, softer and sweeter taste than their yellow-flesh counterparts, likely because of its lower acidity. Although white peaches are sweeter, they forgo yellow peach’s vibrancy and tanginess.
The flesh of a good peach and nectarine creates a yielding bite. As is true with pulpy mangos, large chunks should not dislodge from the fruit, as this means it’s still unripe. At their best, the peach is so juicy that it’s impossible to drink all of its nectar when biting its creamy, pulpy flesh.
Nutritional Value of Nectarine and Peach
According to the USDA nutrient database, 100g of edible peach contains the following values:
1.5g Fiber (6% RDI)
.3g Fat (neg)
.9g Protein (2% RDI)
326IU Vitamin A (7% RDI)
6.6mg Vitamin C (11% RDI)
.7mg Vitamin E (4% RDI)
2.6mcg Vitamin K (3% RDI)
.8mg Niacin (4% RDI)
.2mg Pantothenic Acid (2% RDI)
9mg Magnesium (2% RDI)
20mg Phosphorous (2% RDI)
190mg Potassium (5% RDI)
.1mg Copper (3% RDI)
.1mg Manganese (3% RDI)
1.7g Fiber (7% RDI)
1.1g Protein (2% RDI)
332IU Vitamin A (7% RDI)
5.4mg Vitamin C (9% RDI)
.8mg Vitamin E (4% RDI)
2.2mcg Vitamin K (3% RDI)
1.1mg Niacin (6% RDI)
.2mg Pantothenic Acid (2% RDI)
6mg Calcium (1% RDI)
.3mg Iron (2% RDI)
9mg Magnesium (2% RDI)
26mg Phosphorous (3% RDI)
201mg Potassium (6% RDI)
.1mg Copper (4% RDI)
.1mg Manganese (3% RDI)
Health Benefits of Nectarine and Peach
Peaches and nectarines may not rank as superfoods like mangosteens, but the fruit does pack a wallop of nutritional benefits.
These fruits rank low on the glycemic index, which make them ideal for those needing to control sugar levels. Additionally, peaches are a hydrating summer fruit and provide an ideal combination of sugar and electrolytes.
Several scientific studies show the benefits of these fruits as well:
-A 2010 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that peaches improve allergy symptoms, including sinusitis.
--A study published in 2001 in Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis found that peach flower extract protects against DNA damage and skin carcinogenesis.
--According to a 2009 finding published in Phytotherapy Research, peach flesh alleviates the negative effects of some chemotherapy medication, and boosts the medication’s efficacy in inhibiting tumor growth
--In a study published for the International Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables, scientists found that compounds in red peach flesh fight breast cancer cells.
--A study by Texas AgriLife Research found that compounds in peaches and other stone fruits have the potential to fight cardiovascular disease and obesity-related diseases by reducing bad cholesterol levels.
How to Open/Cut:
Peaches and nectarines can be eaten out-of-hand. If using in recipes, cutting the fruits require a bit of finesse. Use a small paring knife to cut around the pit, and then twist the halves to extricate the flesh. Cut the halves into wedges, and then into bite-sized pieces.
If the peach is super-ripe and soft, the better tactic is to slice the peach as one would a mango: Cut the fruit into two halves, barely missing the pit. Then, pop out the pit from the remaining ring of flesh. Cut flesh into desired pieces.
Peaches and nectarines do not grow sweeter once picked from the tree—fruits bought from the market will be as good as it gets. Peaches can grow softer and slightly riper if placed in a paper bag with bananas and other ethylene-emitting fruits, but it’s best to purchase peaches that are already somewhat ripe.
In refrigeration, ripe peaches last for an extra four days. Place the fruits in a plastic bag to capture the much-needed humidity and store in the crisper. Although cool storage prolongs its longevity, let the fruit sit at room temperature before consuming—the peach will taste better.
Peaches freeze well, though they require preparation that can be laborious. First, remove the skin by slitting a small “x” near the groove at the top. Blanch by dropping the fruits into boiling water for no more than 30 seconds, and then transferring them into a bowl of ice water—this will loosen the skin. Peel the skin, starting at the cut slit. Once peeled, use a paring knife and slice the fruit in half to remove the pit. Cut into chunks or wedges, and coat them in lemon juice to prevent browning. Many choose to sprinkle sugar over the peaches as well. Freeze the chopped pieces on a baking tray with parchment first, and then move the pieces to a plastic freezer bag. They will keep for 8 months or, until the next peach season.
Nectarine and Peach Recipe Ideas and Uses:
Peaches and nectarines are highly versatile: they can be cooked, grilled, dehydrated, frozen, pureed, preserved and baked. Consider the following recipes:
--Blend into a smoothie with bananas, orange juice and strawberries. Or, keep the flavor simple by blending frozen peaches with nut milk and vanilla extract.
--Dehydrate into fruit leather for a quick, low-glycemic snack.
--Grill peaches and serve alongside marinated tofu, or even on veggie burgers and kebabs.
--Make peach cocktails and beverages by blending the fruit and extracting the juice with a sieve. Use this peach nectar for the base of a martini. The juice also works well in sangrias. Or, simply add strained peach juice to sparkling water or champagne.
--Make peach pie or cobbler: the fruit pairs well berries, too. To make peach pie filling, add lemon juice over 4 ½ cups of cut peaches. Separately, mix ½ cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, nutmeg, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Sift these dry ingredients, and slowly mix them into the peaches. Pour into a pie batter, and bake.
--Add finely chopped peach or nectarine to salsa
--Create peach compotes and jams by adding the appropriate ratios of water to sugar and boiling.
--Add mashed peaches atop sweet bread recipes like muffins and cakes like cheesecake. Or, fold into ice cream and puddings
|Vegan peach cobbler milkshake from|
Apricot, plum, cherry, date, fig, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, orange
Herbs, spices, and oil: Honey, nutmilk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom, white wine, champagne, rum, Cointreau, chocolate, pistachio, almond, hazelnut, dried fig, raisin
Nectarines and peaches have some of the highest levels of pesticides of any fruit. If possible, buy organic. Additionally, a study published in Food Chemistry reveals that organic peaches have significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting polyphenols than their conventional counterpart.
Another way of categorizing peaches is by the ease of extricating the stone from the flesh. If the pit’s easily removed, it’s a freestone peach. If the flesh sticks to the pit’s crevices, it’s a clingstone peach.
Peach, adoo (Hindi)
Apricot, plum, natal plum, karonda, cherry