GLASSBORO, N.J. — Sad is the summer without peaches, especially those locally grown Jersey peaches. They’re not only deliciously juicy, they’re full of nutrition and can quell your craving for calorie-loaded junk sweets—all in just 60 calories per peach. They’re now on sale at supermarkets, farmers markets and farm stands and will be available through mid-September.
According to healthline.com, among the top questions people ask on its site are “What are the benefits of eating peaches?” “Are peaches anti-inflammatory?” and “Are Peaches good for weight loss?” Clearly, Americans are focusing more on health than ever, and New Jersey Peach Promotion Council has thoroughly researched the questions and offers some answers.
While essentially all sugars are carbohydrates that the body converts into glucose and uses for energy, refined sugar is sucrose, while natural fruit sugar is fructose, and there is a difference. Natural sugars, as in peaches, are digested slower and help stabilize metabolism. A fresh Jersey peach is one of nature’s sweetest treats, as attested by public demand for them as soon as they become available.
Peaches release their best flavors when picked directly off the tree, but most consumers don’t get them this way; they buy them at farmers markets, farm stands and supermarkets. The good news is that according to studies done by Rutgers University, University of California Davis and other agencies, peaches don’t lose significant nutrients when handled (picked by hand), packed and shipped properly (held at temperatures between 32 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit and shipped short distances in less than three days). The less distance peaches travel, the better tasting and more nutritious they are. That’s one thing that makes New Jersey peaches superior and delicious; they’re generally shipped within a couple of days in a 150-mile radius of where they are picked, unlike southern or California peaches that can take a week or more from tree to market.
According to the USDA, a medium-size peach (2.5 inches in diameter) provides 12% of the RDA for an adult male and 14.80% for an adult female, as well as 6.8% of recommended potassium and l5% of recommended fiber. The following chart shows the vitamins, fiber and minerals in one peach (provided by USDA):
|Fiber: 2.6 grams
Protein: 1.6 grams
Total fat: 0.4 grams
Vitamin A: 570 IU
|Vitamin C: 11.6 mg
Potassium: 333 mg
Calcium: 10.5 mg
Magnesium: 15.7 mg
Buying and keeping Peaches
When buying, look for color, especially around the stem; it should be reddish or yellow, not green, which indicates lack of ripeness and immature sugar content. Firmness is ok, as the peach will soften on your countertop. Most nutritionists recommend storing in cloth or paper bag to soften, but just leaving them on the countertop accomplishes the task as well. Once slightly soft, refrigerate them, and consume in two or three days. Rinse just before eating or using in recipes. If you want to peel off skin just dip in boiling water for about 20 seconds and then cool immediately in ice water– skins will slip off,
A variety of recipes and places to buy Jersey peaches are on the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council (NJPPC) website at www.jerseypeaches.com Also check out Jersey peaches on facebook.com/newjerseypeaches
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is a voluntary organization of growers, packers, shippers, marketers and allied industries dedicated to the orderly marketing a promotion of NJ Peaches.
–Pegi Adam, New Jersey Peach Promotion Council