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Peach (prunus persica)

A delicious fruit, growing on a deciduous tree, to about the size of an apple, but covered with a yellow-red downy skin. Some have orange, and some white flesh.

The Peach is related to the rose family and also to the almond. As denoted by its Latin name, it was long considered to have originated in Persia, but it"s now apparent it came from China - where it has been cultivated as far back as 550BC.

The fruit had certainly arrived in Britain by Anglo-Saxon times, and they called it perseoc-treou. Peaches are their variety, nectarines, were in common cultivation by the time of Elizabeth 1.

Peaches are very fussy about the climate in which they grow, as although they like summer heat, they need a certain amount of "chilling" during their dormant period, when they like to be below 7ºC/44ºF. On the other hand, they blossom early, so this needs protection from frost.

The sugar content of the fruit is about 9 per cent, and the vitamins, especially A and C, are greater than most other fruits. Peaches contain a considerable amount of minerals and are lower in calories than either apples or pears. This are highly versatile, delicious raw (they are easily skinned, if dipped in boiling water for a few seconds) or can be cooked - or dried like apricots.

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