Makes 4 to 5 cups
Peaches originated in China where they have been cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture. The peach was brought to America by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century and eventually made it to England and France in the seventeenth century, where it was a popular albeit rare treat. In Queen Victoria's day, no meal was complete without a fresh peach presented in a fancy cotton napkin. Various American Indian tribes are credited with migrating the peach tree across the United States, taking seeds along with them and planting as they roved the country. Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the nineteenth century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and finally Virginia.
Peaches have high levels of antioxidants, which combat cell radicals that produce damage to body cellular structures. Peaches are also a good source of Vitamin C, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents.
Storing & Cooking Information
Wash and cut around the pit, or eat whole. No need to peel.
Peaches not immediately consumed or processed should be stored in a chilled area such as a refrigerator (32 degrees F and high-humidity). It is best to use or process the fruit as quickly as possible since it is highly perishable under high temperatures and not well suited to prolonged cold storage (more than 14 days).
To freeze peaches, first wash them. Then, drop them into boiling water for 20-45 seconds. Remove them and dip them in ice water and then remove their skins. Cut them into quarters or halves. Mix the peaches with a simple sugar syrup. Fill and label a freezer bag. Freeze immediately.
For canning, follow the same steps for freezing, but use a hot water canning method to store your peaches and syrup instead of freezing.