The peach tree comes from China, where it was domesticated a long time ago, in approximately 5,000 BC. The peach tree has always been a very strong symbol, of immortality among other things, while its flowers are associated with love and fertility.
The peach tree arrived in Persia (modern-day Iran), probably via the Silk Road, and the result was called Malum persicum, or "Persian apple", at the time, because it was shaped like an apple. Over the centuries, persicum turned into pessicum, then pesca. This is still its name in Italian. This became pêche in French and "peach" in English.
The Greeks discovered the peach tree in around the 3rd or 4th century BC, but the exact date is not known. It then moved on to the Romans, who cultivated it in large numbers, and took it across to Europe, where the climate was favorable.
This was the case in France: from the 16th century, this country was the leading European producer of peaches. In the orchard of Versailles, during the reign of Louis XIV, around forty different varieties were grown, with names such as the Têton de Vénus and Belle de Chevreuse.
Espalier cultivation (against walls) was developed at the same time, but in Montreuil by Girardot, a former musketeer of the King, who had retired there.
The peach tree arrived in America during the 16th century, taken there by the Spanish and Portuguese: it was soon cultivated, first in Florida and then in Central America and South America.
China is the world's leading producer of peaches.
A ripe peach is soft to the touch and has a nice smell. Color is by no means a sign of ripeness.
Hard peaches with no fragrance should be avoided.
When not fresh, yellow and white peaches are sold:
frozen peeled, pitted and halved, sliced or cubed,
canned with or without syrup,
dried or freeze dried, in halves or slices.
Peaches should always be peeled first, regardless of how they are going to be used (if only to eliminate the chemical residues on the skin), either directly or by soaking them for 20 seconds in boiling water and then in ice water.
Raw, Peaches are eaten as they are or in fruit salads.
Otherwise, they are a main feature in numerous desserts: in a charlotte, pie, or clafoutis, poached in syrup or wine, cooked in foil, on a skewer alone or with other fruit, fried with a little honey, as a coulis, or used to make ice cream or sorbet.
Escoffier immortalized the peach with his famous Peach Melba, which was somewhat changed afterwards, much to his regret.
In savory dishes, peaches go well with duck, foie gras, barbecued ribs, and seafood, such as crab.
Ripe peaches should be used immediately. They can be stored in the refrigerator or cold room, in their tray, for a few hours, but the cold destroys their flavor.
Frozen peaches must be kept in the freezer without breaking the cold chain.
Dried, they should be stored in a dry place in an airtight container.
Peaches are high in fiber, antioxidant molecules of all kinds (especially the yellow ones), and minerals.
They have a low vitamin content: they contain a small amount of vitamin C, but its action is enhanced by the flavonoid pigments, especially in the yellow peaches and blood peaches.
Like all fruits, they contain carbohydrates, but virtually no protein or fat.
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