Peaches and the science behind them

Peaches can be eaten fresh or used for making peach cobbler, jam pie or peach ice cream.

Brightly-colored Michigan peaches are being harvested now. Photo: Bill Shane, MSU Extension.

Brightly-colored Michigan peaches are being harvested now. Photo: Bill Shane, MSU Extension.

It’s time to enjoy Michigan peaches! While enjoying some fresh peaches, peach cobbler, jam pie or peach ice cream, you can learn more about peaches as you do some dinner table plant science. Learning more about the foods we eat, how they grow, where they come from and teaching children a little plant science can make for a great summer time activity for young and old.

Fun facts about peaches

  • Peach fruit is botanically known as drupe (stone fruit). It consists of white or yellow flesh that is covered with yellowish-red, velvety skin.
  • The flowers have male (stamens) and female (pistil) reproductive organs.
  • Honey bees are the main pollinators of peach flowers.
  • Peach seeds are large, oval-shaped and protected with a woody husk. The seeds contain hydrocyanic acid, which is poisonous.
  • Nectarines are a type of peach that have smooth skin instead of velvety, which is typical for peaches.
  • Peaches are rich source of vitamin C, A and E.Peach nutrition
  • They also contain high amounts of potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
  • Peaches are members of the Rosaceae family and are a close relative of almonds.
  • China is the biggest producer of peaches. Italy is second.
  • Peaches are good for digestion and they have a diuretic effect; you can eat these fruits to cleanse your kidneys and bladder.
  • Peaches are used in cosmetics as a moisturizer.
  • They may reduce hair loss if eaten and also applied to the skin and scalp.
  • The Romans thought peaches originated from Persia – its scientific name also reflects this: Prunus persica. Peaches were often called “Persian apples.”
  • In fact, peaches originated from China and were introduced to the West through Persia.
  • In China, peaches are a symbol of good luck, protection and longevity.
  • The peach tree is often considered to be the tree of life.
  • Christopher Columbus brought several peach trees to America on his second and third voyages.
  • Georgia is known as the Peach State, although California produces about 50 percent of all peaches in the U.S.

Peach Sherbet recipe

Here is a quick and simple recipe for Peach Sherbet that is smooth, sweet and creamy, and made with only two ingredients! This is so simple that kids can make it by themselves.

Peach Sherbet

Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 large (or 6 medium) ripe peaches, peeled, sliced and frozen

Instructions

  • Peel fresh peaches over a wax paper-lined baking sheet to catch the juice. Slice the peaches and lay them in a single layer on the wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze them (and any accumulated juice) until frozen, about 4 hours.
  • Add the peaches and sweetened condensed milk to a blender and puree until the peaches are the consistency of soft serve ice cream. This can be done in batches if needed.
  • Serve immediately or freeze in an airtight container for an ice cream consistency.

More information

To learn more about growing peaches in Michigan, see the following Michigan State University Extension resources:

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