Peach festivals are celebrated coast to coast in the summer when the sweet and juicy stone fruit is at its peak. From California to Georgia, folks gather at farms and fairgrounds to pick their own peaches and decide which vendor makes the best peach cobbler.
However, peaches were celebrated across the globe long before the first peach festival was held stateside in Ludwig, Arkansas in 1938. Peaches originated in China, and the country is still the largest peach producer today, growing about two-thirds of the world’s supply. In Chinese mythology, it’s believed that the Peaches of Immortality tree, located in the Kunlun mountains, produces fruit only once every 3,000 years, and eating these mythical peaches gives one the ability to live forever. Myths don’t hold much juice in the 21st century, but peaches are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which all help with living a long life, though not quite an immortal one.
Here at home, Georgia may be known as the Peach State (thanks, Justin Bieber), but California grows most of the peaches enjoyed by Americans, and South Carolina named the peach its official state fruit in 1984, 11 years before Georgia did the same in 1995. If your local peach festivals have already passed and you weren’t able to make it to one, you can have your own right at home. Fun suggestion: National Eat-a-Peach Day is August 22nd; it’s as good an excuse as any to fill your day with all things peaches.
Make one (or all) of the following recipes, rent “James and the Giant Peach” and watch it with the kids, put on Presidents of the United States of America’s “Peaches,” and sing it like you mean it when lead singer Christopher Ballew intones, “I’m movin’ to the country / I’m gonna eat me a lot of peaches.” Now that sounds like a peachy keen day.
Breakfast: Peach Melba Smoothie
Famed French chef Auguste Escoffier invented around 5,000 recipes in his lifetime. One of them is the Peach Melba dessert, which he came up with in 1893 in honor of the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba. Start the day off with our smoothie version; it’s like having dessert for breakfast, and what’s sweeter than that? (Other than peaches, of course.)
- 1/4 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup fresh peaches, chopped into small cubes
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 4-5 ice cubes (add more or less depending on how thick or thin you like your smoothies)
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Serve immediately.
Lunch: Salad or Flatbread? We’ve Got Both.
Dinner: Peach-Glazed Chicken
Cap a peach-filled day with our peach-glazed chicken, served alongside your favorite steamed vegetables for a balanced meal. For dessert, grill up some peaches and top with a drizzle of honey and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 4 ripe peaches, pitted and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions in the pan for about one minute.
- Place chicken thighs in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook through until golden brown, about seven minutes per side. Stick a fork in the chicken to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside; cover with foil to keep warm.
- To make the peach sauce, add fresh peaches, brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar to the pan. Cook until peaches are soft or the peach sauce has reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 15-20 minutes.
- Return chicken to the pan and heat until warm for about three minutes, spooning the peach sauce over the chicken the entire time. Serve immediately.