It is August, and that means it is National Peach Month.
National Peach Month is meant to honor the delicious flavor of the juicy peach. Peaches can be eaten right off the tree, sliced in cream and yogurt, blended into smoothies, or made into a scrumptious pie or cobbler topped with ice cream.
Celebrate National Peach Month by enjoying them in as many ways as you can come up with, and while you do, keep these facts in mind.
- Originating in China, the peach has been cultivated since at least 1000 B.C.E.
- The French brought peaches to the US through Louisiana, and the English introduced them to their colonies in Jamestown and Massachusetts.
- Christopher Columbus carried peach trees on his second voyage to America.
- California puts out nearly 50% of the US’ peaches, and is the third top producer in the world. China is the number one producer of peaches and Italy is the second.
- Peach pits are poisonous containing hydrocyanic acid.
- Peaches are high in vitamins A, B and C.
- The peach is sodium free, cholesterol free, and free of saturated fats.
- A medium peach only contains around 37 calories.
- There are over 700 varieties of peaches.
- Peaches are climacteric. This means they continue to ripen after being picked off the tree.
- Peaches are best stored with high humidity and at temperatures of 32 °F. Peaches are highly perishable fruits and should be eaten or canned within two weeks of their harvest.
- There are several varieties of peaches, however, there are two different kinds cultivated today; clingstones, which feature flesh that tightly attaches to the stone or seed in the middle, and freestones, which do not. The freestones are commonly used for canning peaches.
Currently, Apple Annie’s Orchards in Wilcox is hosting their 16th annual Peach Mania. Enjoy an all you can eat peaches and pancakes breakfast served from 7:30-10:30 AM on Saturdays and Sundays. Take a free wagon ride and pick your own peaches right off of the tree. Sample on peaches and dozens of peach products for free! Enjoy an apple-smoked hamburger lunch from 11:30- 3:00 PM daily.
If you can’t make it out to Apple Annie’s this month you can try Schnepf Farms at a later date. Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek is one of Arizona’s better known peach growers. They have been growing peaches in the valley for 50 years! Their peach season begins earlier than much of the country (due to Arizona’s warmer temperatures), running from late April through May.
Each year Schnepf Farms hosts a Peach Blossom Celebration as well as their extremely popular Peach Festival. The next Peach Blossom Celebration is set to begin on February 4, 2016, and will run until March 1, 2016. This event was created to let the public visit the farm and enjoy the trees while they are covered in pink and white blossoms. Professional photographers will be happy to hear that they allow you to photograph clients at the farm during this time for a fee of only $100 for three hours.
The next Peach Festival is expected to run from May 14, 2016, through May 22, 2016. When the time comes, check their webpage for exact date and times as they are subject to change depending on the peaches. This event is set up for the public to come in and sample and pick peaches. Visitors can choose from the six peach varieties they have available on the farm. Varieties they offer are the Earligrand (the largest peach grown on the farm), Florida King, Florida Prince (a medium sized peach), Snow Angle (small to medium sized white peaches), Springcrest, and Super Lady (juicy and sweet). Other activities will include hay rides to the orchards, live music, carousel rides, train rides, carnival rides, water activities and peachy arts and crafts booths and more. Peach pies, peach cookies, peach cinnamon rolls, peach cobbler, peach salsa, and other peachy foods will be available for purchase and sampling at the Peachy Sampling Pavilion.
Peaches are available for picking at many Arizona farms including the above mentioned Schnepf Farms and Apple Annie’s Orchards, as well as Sphinx Date Ranch and more. The peach season in Arizona varies with the location of the farm, so check their website for picking season. To find a local u-pick farm you can go to fillyourplate.org.