Tag Archives: peach

Walnut nostalgia

Walnuts may not seem like summer fruits, but they are – as long as you have the right recipe.  Katherine takes you to the heart of French walnut country for green walnut season.

France 1154 Eng newAnnotation fullRes 2

Public domain, via wikimedia commons

English walnuts do not come from England. The English walnut came to American shores from England, but the English got them from the French. The (now) French adopted walnut cultivation from the Romans two millennia ago, back when they were still citizens of Gallia Aquitania. Some people call this common walnut species “Persian walnut,” a slightly better name, as it does seem to have evolved originally somewhere east of the Mediterranean. But the most accurate name for the common walnut is Juglans regia, which means something like “Jove’s kingly nuts.” I think of them as queenly nuts, in honor of Eleanor of Aquitaine, because if any queen had nuts, she certainly did. During her lifetime the Aquitaine region of France became a major exporter of walnuts and walnut oil to northern Europe, and it remains so more than 800 years later. Continue reading

The Stone fruits of summer

The scent of ripening peaches spurs Katherine’s musings on the botany
of stone fruits

Fragrant peaches ripening on window sills and countertops pull me right back into the heart of my childhood summers.  They always arrived in a huge box from Georgia, sent by my grandmother in the hope of drawing my parents back to their native state. Her other lures included Vidalia onions in April and Claxton fruitcakes in November, but peaches were definitely her best shot. The peaches were gorgeous, and their ripe flavor was incredibly complex and vivid, but their peak was ephemeral.  After my sister and I had spread them all out on newspapers, the whole sprawling array had to be checked at least two times a day and sorted by ripeness. Peaches were never allowed to touch each other.  On some hot days, peach tending took on the urgency of triage, with fruits passing from ripe to “sharp” to downright alcoholic in one long afternoon.

Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries are sometimes called stone fruits because of their pits, or stones.  Along with almonds, they are all in the genus Prunus which belongs to the Rose family – Rosaceae.  Several other familiar fruits come from the rose family but are not stone fruits. Continue reading

Do peaches belong in the fridge?

Some people just cannot bring themselves to refrigerate peaches. Storing peaches lovingly at room temperature is said to coax out the best in peach scent, flavor, and texture. But treating peaches this way does take a lot of time and vigilance, as I detail elsewhere. Reliable authorities – peach packing houses and state extension agencies – recommend refrigerating peaches once they become ripe, but some people would rather risk losing fruit to rot than let them get cold. But does it matter? Can peaches be stored in the fridge to slow their decline without compromising their peak? Continue reading