At our last happy hour it seemed no matter what the topic of conversation, the talk always came back to food. Our favorites of course; which we subdivided into all the courses especially of an evening meal.
As the event wound down the topic of conversation came around to trees, which came around to fruit, which came around to food, and we mentioned which fruit was our personal favorite. The peach came up a few times.
At this point I happened to mention I once wrote a “How-to” article about finding the perfect peach and said I should probably write about that for my blog sometime.
Today I had a little free time and I looked for and (believe it or not) actually found the article. I wrote this as part of a course I took with The Institute of Children’s Literature. Hence, my ‘how to’ find the perfect peach.
In Search of the Perfect Peach
One’s quest for a perfect peach should start with a walk some afternoon in late August, with four o’clock being the peak time for you search to conclude. While strolling by a nearby orchard, you will find the trees revealing an abundance of fruit, waiting for harvest.
Under ideal conditions your peach will be warmed by the summer sun. Don’t hurry! Spend a little time walking around the trees. Look for a peach that’s full and round, one that’s about 11 to 13 inches in circumference.
In color, it should be a delicate mingle of orange and pink, with a dark, warm, brownish-red bottom and a lighter yellow-orange top where the cheeks are attached to the branch on a squat brownish-black stem.
A ripe peach will not have to be pulled from the tree; it will fall from the branch as you cup your hands under it. Care must be taken not to squash the fruit as its flesh will be slightly soft to the touch.
Do not wash the fruit! Chances are the latest summer rain showered your peach with the “just Right” amount of moisture to make it acceptable for eating plucked directly from the tree.
Gently rub the fruit between your hands, just to feel its warmth and to enjoy the softness of the furry blanket nature has provided for it while it grew.
Now, hold the peach to your nose and inhale deeply. Savor the delicate aroma which will be sweet and flower like, yet pleasantly fruity.
Your peach can be eaten skin and all. Although, there are some who find the skin uninviting due to the fact is covered with a soft, delicate fuzz; others, (myself included) find that too an enjoyable part of a perfect peach. The skin adds to the uniqueness of the fruit and should be devoured.
A ripe peach will taste sweet, yet tangy. The meat is soft and easy to chew, with nectar in every bite. Like good wine, it pleases the palate. The savory yellow juice will seep through your fingers and begin to run down your hand. If the peach is plump enough you will have the pleasure of having the luscious syrup run all the way to your elbow.
As you devour your peach you will find as you near the center, the pulp has become a rich, robust red and the flavor turns slightly tart. At the very center, the pulp is firmly clasped to the stone. It clings as a result of the stone having deep, natural ridges.
With a little effort, the pulp can be removed from the stone. The stone, or pit as it is sometimes called, will be on average an inch in length and shaped oblong. It resembles a miniature football, being a rich, dark brown in color; however, with its unique ridges it also appears brain-like.
After allowing the stone to dry for a few days, the perfect peach will reveal one final, pleasant surprise. This surprise requires slightly more effort than removing the pulp and you might sustain a few scraped knuckles; but you’ll find the fun outweighs the effort.
There is no greater pleasure than revealing this surprise to a group of children gathered round on a warm, sunny sidewalk. While holding the stone firmly on its edge and scraping end to end on the concrete the stone will gradually wear away. Eventually you will hit a chamber in the stone, inside is a semi-hard, off white seed. Pry the seed from the chamber. Although the seed appears nut-like in texture it is not recommended to be eaten. It is bitter to the taste, could make you ill, and should be discarded.
For it is the stone itself that contains the surprise; once the seed is removed you will discover you have created a miniature, sturdy, water-tight canoe; which will dance and bob about when placed in a bowl of water. Children will marvel at your creativity and someday themselves perpetuate this ritual for another group of fascinated children.
Finally your quest is complete; you’ve unraveled the mysteries of and found there is little waste to one of nature’s miracles. But even more, you’ve had the rare opportunity to discover the perfect peach.