Tuesday, August 16, 2022
by Jenny Lange, Registered Dietitian
It’s my favorite time of year: peach season! Before moving to Oklahoma, I spent the last seven years in Colorado, where, unbeknownst to most, peach season is a lifestyle. I grew obsessed with those juicy little fruits and even helped pick peaches in the peach capital of Colorado: Palisade. Late August/Early September, I would take an early morning hike and admire the rows of peach trees covering the Grand Valley (where Palisade is located). Throughout Palisade, you’ll find local growers selling their peaches at local farmer’s markets or stands right on their property. Right about now, this small town in Western Colorado is bustling with people from all over the state buying peaches by the crate full.
But you must be thinking, what’s all the fuzz* about these sweet fruits? Pardon my pun.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Porter, Oklahoma, is the peach capital of Oklahoma?
First, peaches are a stone fruit, or drupe. Drupes contain the fleshy outer fruit and a hardened endocarp containing an edible seed at the center. Other stone fruits include: apricots, plums, nectarines, and cherries. Here in Oklahoma, some popular varieties of peaches include: Bellaire, redhaven, glohaven, and lorings. My personal favorite is the glohaven.
Contrary to popular belief, Porter peaches or Stratford peaches are not the actual varieties of peaches grown in Oklahoma. These terms describe the peaches that grow in those areas! Both locations grow varieties of glohaven, redhaven, and loring peaches. The varieties of peaches are often categorized by their ripening relative to Redhaven, or the average ripening date(s). At the OSU Research Farm in Perkins, Oklahoma, Redhaven is usually between July 12 -16.
Fun Fact: The sweeter the peach smells – the riper it is. The same goes for the feel of the peach. The softer the peach is – the riper it is. Have a firm peach that you want sooner rather than later? Try placing it in a brown paper bag on your counter to ripen more quickly!
Throughout their several varieties, peaches are either white or yellow/orange in color. The white or yellow coloring indicates the level of a peach’s acidity. Yellow/orangey flesh color indicates a higher acid content, meaning the peach will taste tart. White flesh color indicates a lower acid content, meaning the peach will taste sweeter than a yellow/orange variety.
Fun Fact: I spent a few months on a research farm that tested different crop varieties of peaches. As the resident starving grad student at the time, I always volunteered for taste testing! All peaches left over after completed testing and research were donated to the local food bank.
These colors contain beta-carotene, a nutrient essential for our eye health. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. Further, peaches are rich in vitamin A, a nutrient that helps maintain the health and structure of the back of our eye (retina). Peaches are also a good source of vitamin C, the antioxidant we know and love! Vitamin C protects us from potentially dangerous free radicals in the body to keep us strong and healthy.