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Peachy keen fruit season

Before talking about this month's topic, I'd like to pass on this interesting suggestion I received from Ray Camball regarding the article on mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes usually attack during calm ...

Before talking about this month’s topic, I’d like to pass on this interesting suggestion I received from Ray Camball regarding the article on mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes usually attack during calm weather, using a fan to stir up the air is a great way to keep these pests from biting. I recommend this approach since it’s both environmentally-friendly and chemical-free. Thanks, Ray!

Now, this month we’ll be looking at a favourite fall fruit: peaches. Different varieties of fresh peaches can be found year-round, but peaches are especially tasty when picked up at a roadside stand during this season.

Popular Ontario varieties, listed in ripening order include: Harrow Diamond; Garnet Beauty; Early Redhaven; Redhaven; Vivid; Loring; and Harrow Beauty. This variety of choices lets us benefit from the nutrition in fresh peaches throughout the fall.

How can you be sure you’ve picked a good, fresh peach?

The skin’s background colour should be yellow or cream and fresh looking. Whether or not a peach has a red “blush” depends on the variety, but this colouring doesn’t tell you how the fruit will taste when it’s ripe.

When choosing fruit, don’t just look at them, but touch them, too. Peaches should be soft, but not mushy. Stay away from those with wrinkled skin, a greenish tinge at the end, or bruises and blemishes.

Smell them, too. Fruit that smells sweet, taste sweet.

Once you get your peaches home, you can ripen them in a brown paper bag at room temperature over two or three days. Since they go bad quickly, only buy as many as you can eat within a few days.

Don’t store them in the sun.

After they’ve ripened, put peaches in the fridge for up to five days (stored in a single layer). They taste best when they’re eaten at room temperature, so remember to take them out of the refrigerator at least one hour before eating. Still, use them up immediately when they become really soft.

Then before taking your first bite, gently rinse off any pesticides under running water. If you decide to peel the fruit, make it easy by briefly immersing in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds then cooling immediately. This blanching will make the peel slide right off. To keep peeled slices from turning brown, toss them lightly in lemon juice or dip them in ascorbic acid diluted in water. You can even freeze these slices to eat later.

When you take your first bite, you’ll find either yellow or white flesh. White flesh is “sub-acid” and tastes more sugary sweet. However, the more traditional colour, yellow, is more acidic and a bit more flavourful.

Fresh peaches are excellent. Later when the harvest season is over, enjoy peaches from a can. And remember that choosing cans labeled ‘Packed in its own juice,’ ‘Packed in pear juice,’ and ‘No added sugar’ is healthier than those packed in sweetened syrup.

Fresh, canned or frozen, peaches can be included in your breakfast, lunch or supper.

Slice peaches on top of your favourite cereal, pancakes or waffles. Blend a breakfast smoothie with peaches and yogurt. Pack a fresh peach, a snack pack, or a can of peaches to finish off your lunch or for a light afternoon snack. Or, for a protein boost, add low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese to peaches.

Include peaches in a fruit salad. Bake, grill, or broil peaches to serve as a side-dish to your favourite meat or fish main courses. For a light dessert, top angelfood cake with low-fat frozen yogurt and freshly-sliced peaches. Occasionally, splurge on a slice of fresh peach pie.

However you eat them, the nutrition found in peaches makes them a peachy keen choice for your healthy diet. Ones with redcoloured and orange-coloured flesh contain beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant) which your body transforms into Vitamin A.

This Vitamin A maintains your skin, inside and out, while also protecting your eyes, building strong teeth and bones and healthy hair. Vitamin A has also been seen to reduce rates of cancer and heart disease.

Peaches also are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system, promotes healing, and helps prevent cancer, heart disease and stroke. A halfcup of canned peaches contains 8% of the Vitamin C needed in a day.

Although Vitamin E is usually associated with vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and wheat germ, peaches also contain a significant amount. Vitamin E protects you from heart disease and breast cancer. An Ohio State University study found that half a cup canned peaches can give you 24% of the Vitamin E you need daily.

Peaches are also high in potassium and a good source of carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber.

With less than 40 calories and no fat, salt or cholesterol, this fruit is just peachy for everyone’s diet. n

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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