Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What the heck is that? Donut peaches

Could donut peaches bridge the donut - produce divide?

I am a strong believer in Produce Proselytizing - showing folks how delicious and delightful produce can be. But I know that it's hard to convince people who are accustomed to eating donuts (or other members of the notorious Salt-Sugar-Fat trinity) that they might like some fresh fruit as well. Produce Proselytizing faces a couple of widely acknowledged challenges - access, cost, habit, etc. - and one that isn't discussed as frequently: most junk food has a consistent taste but agricultural products are much more variable in quality.

"I know I can count on an Oreo," a friend's husband told me recently. "An Oreo is always good! Cantaloupe is another story. Sure, I've had some good cantaloupe, but can you guarantee that the next cantaloupe will be just as good? I didn't think so." 

Of course I've had some bad produce. So much, in fact, I've tried to formulate solutions in those circumstances When Bad Produce Happens to Good People. Those experiences haven't broken my stride much, but I do sometimes wish for a consistently wonderful fruit for those a bit more wobbly in their faith.

Enter the donut peach, one of the surest things in the produce world I've experienced thus far.

Donut peaches, aka Saturn peaches, aka Galaxy peaches, aka UFO peaches, aka bagel peaches, are white-flesh peaches with flattened shapes. This unusual profile is said to resemble a donut, the rings of Saturn, a bagel or a UFO. Ya gotta have a gimmick! 

We mean no harm to your Galaxi 

Beyond the amusing names, what I have found intriguing about donut peaches is how consistently great they are. They're very sweet and lower in acid than other peaches. I can't recall ever having a mealy one. 

Donut peaches are a supermarket's dream (flat = stackable) but the variety isn't a recent lab development. They've been grown in China since the 19th century. 

Donut peaches are on the small side (very appealing for kids) and they have a tiny pit that sidesteps one of regular peaches' potentially annoying attributes: the problematic pit. Clingstone peach pits do just what their name implies - cling to the flesh that irritates some people. Freestone pits avoid those separation issues, but sometimes the pit halves separate from each other as well, leaving bits of hard shell amid the peach flesh, or exposing the interstices of the seed and seed debris in a way that repulses some eaters. Donut peaches' pits stay tightly closed but don't cling to the flesh: the best of both worlds.

Little donut peach pits vs. big peach pit

After buying several donut peaches at the farmers' market (and then going back and buying more), I did a bit of research and discovered that donut peaches are wonderful to grow, too.  Mother Earth News noted that donut peaches are easier to grow than many varieties (highly pest resistant and producers of unusually abundant harvests) and have particularly beautiful blossoms.  This seed catalog describes "small, fast-growing trees so attractive they'd be valuable even without the fruit." 

Hmmm, sounds like an opportunity for some garden proselytizing...

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