The peach tree originated in China where it is traditionally regarded as the tree of life. It produces juicy stone fruits with thin fuzzy skin. Unfortunately, they are fragile and bruise easily. The word peach is a corruption of the Latin persica, meaning Persian.


Peaches may be clingstone, or the more modern freestone types where the stone separates easily from the flesh. White peaches have an elegant flavour and pale white-green-pink flesh, however yellow-fleshed peaches are more widely available and still delicious. A red hue to the skin does not indicate ripeness, nor does size suggest quality: larger fruit may be full of water and have a woolly textured flesh. When selecting, go for the most fragrant fruits.


These stone fruits are best used raw, or in dishes such as grilled nectarines which only require brief cooking. Serve them as a starter plate with parma ham, sprinkled with olive oil and black pepper. Mix them with red berries and serve doused in chilled sparkling wine. Or add them to a pot of spiced fruits flavoured with mace, cloves, ginger and chilli and serve alongside baked ham.