Peach Perfect

Mouth-watering New England-grown peaches need no accompaniment. (Russell Steven Powell)

FEW DESSERTS or snacks are as sweet, juicy, and tender as a ripe peach from close to where it was grown (that goes for other “stone fruits,” too, like apricots, nectarines, and plums).

Even better, peaches are as healthy as they are delicious.

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AUGUST IS PEAK TIME for New England-grown peaches, and this year appears to be an excellent crop. Early varieties are already available at many locations, with the bulk of the crop to come, overlapping soon with early season apple varieties like Ginger GoldJersey Mac, Paula Red, and Zestar!.

Visit our Orchard Finder to see who is growing apples, peaches (and other stone fruits), berries (raspberries and blueberries are still in season), vegetables, and other locally produced products like cheese, maple syrup, and honey. 

Many New England orchards offer pick-your-own, farm stands, bakeries, and cafés (and that distinctly New England treat: cider donuts). A visit to an orchard is a great way to cool down on a hot summer day — and eat well in the process! 

Be sure to call ahead before visiting to see what’s picking.

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Desiree peach, McDougal Orchards, Springvale, Maine. (Cosmo LaViola)

PEACH FLAVOR is so irresistible that we slather its fragrance in our hair and on our skin: peach-perfumed products include dozens of hand creams and moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners. We inhale the sweet scent of peaches with aromatic candles and air fresheners.

Nothing rivals the real thing.

A ripe peach is a sublime taste treat that needs no accompaniment (except, perhaps, a napkin). Yet fresh peaches add mouth-watering flavor and bright color to yogurt or cereal, too.

Peaches can be mixed with other fruits, turned into ice cream, or baked in a pie, made into salsa or used to flavor tea. 

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PEACHES HYDRATE. A number of studies in recent years have debunked the idea that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day, in large part because we get water from many other sources, especially fruits and vegetables.

At 88 percent water, peaches hold more liquid than an orange! Drink a peach!

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Flat, or donut, peaches like these at Pine Hill Orchards, Colrain, Massachusetts, originated in China. (Russell Steven Powell)

PEACHES ARE HEALTHY. In addition to replenishing our water supply, peaches are high in fiber and Vitamin A and Vitamin C, with smaller amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and some B vitamins.

Peaches are a good source of antioxidants, too, molecules that fight free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage if their levels become too high, and are linked to illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

The fresher and riper the fruit, the more antioxidants it contains — another reason to choose locally grown fruit. In one study, juice from fresh peaches demonstrated antioxidant actions in healthy men within 30 minutes of consumption.

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Desiree peaches Butternut Farm, Farmington, New Hampshire. (Cosmo LaViola)

PEELS ON! A peach’s skin contains many vitamins and provides contrast with the soft flesh beneath. 

Hydrate at breakfast with a fresh New England peach on cereal. (Russell Steven Powell)
Early season Zestar! apples at Ricker Hill Orchards, Turner, Maine, will gain size before ripening in mid- to late August. (Cosmo LaViola)
Paula Red apples, The Apple Farm, Fairfield, Maine, develop their characteristic color during the last weeks before late August harvest. (Cosmo LaViola)