native to: northwest China
in season here: July-August
Peaches are a member of the stone fruit family, related to cherries, apricots, plums, and nectarines. While they come in colors from nearly white to deep orange, they’re not divided by color; they’re categorized as clingstone (“clings”) or freestone. The first peaches to ripen are usually clings, and everyone’s so happy to see them they don’t care about having to gnaw the flesh from the firmly-attached pit. Some apparently prefer clings for canning, but everyone I know waits for the easier freestone varieties.
Peaches are first mentioned in Chinese writings of the 10th century. Chinese culture regards the peach tree as the tree of life and peaches symbolize immortality and unity. China is still the largest peach producer in the world, followed by Italy, California, and Georgia.
Stone fruits such as peaches have anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce LDL cholesterol. They’re an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and six kinds of B vitamin, as well as beta-carotene and fiber. They’re good for the skin and the digestion, and can even help your blood sugar levels. They also have a fair amount of potassium, which supports the heart and kidneys, and other minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. On top of that, fruits in general are good for the eyes.