On June 16, 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed August National Peach Month and called upon the people of the United States to incorporate peaches into their diets. So, how did peaches make it onto the American table in the first place? Are they indigenous to our lands? Let’s find out!
The peach tree is native to the northwest area of China. Archaeologists think peaches were first domesticated along the Yangzi River where they have found fossilized peach seeds thought to be over 8,000 years old. Historians have found peaches discussed in texts from the 10th century. In Chinese culture the peach blossom itself is of particular importance, as it is a sign of luck and was once believed to have the power to cast out evil spirits and deliver strength. When touring from one town to the next Chinese emperors were led by soldiers carrying peach blossoms and Chinese New Year began with peach blossoms hanging on front doors all over the county.
The botanical name for peach is “Prunus persica,” which translates from Latin to “Present from Persia.” Alexander the Great introduced peaches to Europe by bringing the seeds home after conquering Persia. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers brought the first peaches to South America; from there, the peach made its way to England, where it was considered a unique and treasured delicacy.
In the early 1600s, English colonists planted all varieties of stone fruit for the first time including peaches, cherries, and plums on the east coast. In 1768, Thomas Jefferson planted peach trees at his estate, Monticello, but it took another 100 years for peaches to be commercially grown in the United States. Farmers in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, and Virginia were the first to grow peaches for sale in the U.S.
Four Fun Facts about Peaches:
⦁ The fruit has three flesh colors: white, yellow, and red. Wow…RED! I didn’t know that!
⦁ Every year for up to 12 years, a tree can produce up to 66 pounds of fruit.
⦁ The world’s largest peach cobbler is made every year in Georgia (the “Peach State”). How big is it? It measures 11’ x 5’!
⦁ Peaches are my all-time favorite fruit and the first fruit I ever experimented with in my baklava. The first time I ever retailed multiple baklava flavors, I sold out of the peach first!
ENJOY YOUR PEACH WALNUT COBBLER BAKLAVA!