The peach, it’s a simple fruit. You’ve walked past it in the supermarket a hundred times, never dreaming it might have a history more varied than its lorry journey from place of origin to refrigerated shelf! Well, we are here to change all of that. There are many sides to this humble fruit, so here’s some little-known peach facts that we bet you didn’t know.
Peach is the official fruit of Georgia, USA
The state of Georgia has a long history of growing peaches, having first planted them in the eighteenth century. They were so proud of their delicious peaches, that 23 years ago they decided to make it official, and on 7th April 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed an Act designating the peach as Georgia’s official state fruit. The Act stated, among other things, that “the peach growers of this state have earned a well-deserved reputation for consistently producing peaches of the highest quality” and that, “Georgia-grown peaches are recognised for their wonderful flavour, texture, and appearance and for their nutritious qualities which promote a healthy, balanced diet”. The Act also encouraged use of the peach on vehicle license plates and state lottery tickets. Georgia recognises several other state foods, including a state vegetable, however it is the peach that appears on their Georgia Commemorative Quarter.
There’s not actually much difference between a peach and a nectarine
Peaches and nectarines actually belong to the same species, Persica. Both fruits have the same round shape with a ridge along one side, and inside they both contain a large stone. All varieties of both fruits may differ in colour, from red to orange skin and white to yellow flesh.
The one main difference that divides the two fruits is that peaches have a characteristic fuzz on their skin, which nectarines do not. There’s been much debate on the reason behind this, but it’s widely believed that the absence of fuzz on nectarines is caused by one single gene. Despite this tiny difference, they are still regarded commercially as two completely different fruits.
There are hundreds of types of peaches
A cultivar is a plant that has been specifically cultivated/bred to have specific characteristics. Essentially, it’s the agricultural version of a crossbred dog or cat. In the peach world, there are hundreds of cultivars, from yellow peaches to doughnut/flat peaches. The nectarine is often considered a cultivar of the peach, and so all types of nectarines can also be considered cultivars of the peach.
Varieties of peach are separated into clingstone and freestone varieties, depending on whether or not the flesh sticks to the stone. Generally, freestone peaches are preferred for eating, while clingstone varieties are mostly used for canning or baking. You are more likely to find freestone varieties available at your supermarket.
The Latin name for the peach is Prunus Persica
Peaches belong to the Prunus genus. A genus is a type of taxonomic category (a classification above their species type), and peaches are joined in this category by cherries, apricots, almonds and plums. If you were to open up a peach, you’d see that its seed has a corrugated shell, and this is a key signifier of the plants in this genus.
The flavour of the inside of a peach stone tastes very similar to the inside of an almond and as such, a marzipan substitute has been created from the peach, called Persipan. Persipan is often much cheaper than marzipan and it’s a nut-free substitute, suitable for those with allergies.
The second part of its Latin name, Persica, apparently refers to the peach’s widespread cultivation in Iran, formerly known as Persia. From here, peaches were then transported to Europe.
Peaches have significance in several cultures
Peach trees are native to Northwest China. In 2016, it was documented that China produced 58% of the world’s total for peaches. That’s a huge amount of fruit, but it’s understandable when you understand the importance of the peach in Chinese culture.
In Taoist philosophy, there’s a story about a tree which produces a peach of immortality just once every 3,000 years. It’s said that anyone who eats the fruit will become immortal. In China, the peach is generally seen as a sign of longevity and a long life. As such, it’s often featured on birthday cards and cakes. In addition, in Buddhist philosophy, the peach features as one of the three blessed fruits: peach, pomegranate and citrus fruit.
We bet you didn’t realise the humble peach could have so many hidden depths! Do you have any peach facts? Share them with us in the comments.
Don't forget you can can get Forever Aloe Peaches in a 1 litre bottle here.