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The peach, an energetic, rejuvenating fruit

Wiki Spanish Food editorial team

As history has it, the peach originated in China and its tree was commonly known as "the tree of life". Although it was originally believed to have come from Persia, and was called persico, the Romans brought it to the West.

The fruit comes from the peach tree, an ancient tree domesticated about 4,000 ago. But the story also has a dark side: Muhammad's doctors cursed them, and they fell into oblivion throughout the Middle Ages. But everything changed in the 18th century, when the Spanish brought the tree to Mexico and South America, where it was given the name durazno.

The peach is round and a range of shades, including white, yellowish, orange and reddish, depending on the variety, and it always has a fuzzy, velvety outer layer of skin. The flesh is sometimes white and compact, exquisitely delicious, and other times it's red, more subtle and less sweet, but always juicy and refreshing.

This fruit has many positive dietary qualities. It has energetic and rejuvenating properties due to its high beta-carotene content, and is also a source of mineral salts and vitamins. It's worth noting that the composition differs depending on the variety, of which there are more than 1,000 grown all over the world. However, all peaches are high in mineral salts and vitamins A, B, and C; this, along with their sugar content, makes them a wonderful, easily digestible food.    

One of the most popular packaged fruits

Peaches are one of the most popular packaged fruits worldwide, especially in jellies, jams, marmalades, and canned in syrup. But peaches should also be eaten fresh, ideally when they are very ripe, as they are a healthy and delicious fruit.

Fresh peaches are extremely popular everywhere, which increases their commercial value year after year in all producing areas. There are many farms in Spain and, depending on ripeness, they are available from May to October.

Early and late peaches

In Spain, early peaches generally come from Murcia, Valencia, Extremadura and Tarragona, and they're available from July to the end of September. Late peaches come from Lleida and Aragón.

The three Aragonese provinces are one of the primary sources of peaches in Spain. They produce excellent quality fruit, which receive extreme care during the ripening process.

The Designation of Origin Melocotón de Calanda (Calanda Peach) is grown on farms in Lower Aragón and parts of Teruel and Zaragoza. It's a sweet, consistent, meaty fruit of the Prunus pérsica species.

Historically, the peach has had a presence in almost all civilizations and was known and described in ancient writings. It was cited many times by Pliny the Elder, and also appears in frescoes in Pompeii. It's currently the second most-commonly grown fruit, after the apple.

Recipes from Arzak and Joan Roca

Peaches are used by leading chefs, and are very common in desserts, pies, ice cream cakes, as a liquor to accompany fatty meats, such as pork, and in summer salads. Juan Mari Arzak has an innovative recipe of roasted peach with a floral medley, and the highly distinguished Joan Roca prepares them in a syrup.

Below we suggest a few restaurants in Aragón to sample their versatility first-hand. EL MILAGRO, in Teruel, home to one of the best varieties, serves a delicious cold peach cream. At PORTAL DEL CARMEN, in Rubielos de Mora, peach is the main ingredient in their delicious fruit salad. CASA EMILIO, in Zaragoza (where they are especially tasty), serves one of the area's most popular dishes: peaches in wine. In the town of Senegue, close to Sabiñánigo (Huesca), CASBAS serves them in a colorful fruit salad. In Cariñena (Zaragoza), LA REBOTICA, which is lauded by the locals, offers Calanda peach ice cream with custard.

And beyond Aragón, in Briones (La Rioja), at the winery DINASTÍA VIVANCO, customers can savor their peach confit surrounded by vineyards.

ADDRESSES

EL MILAGRO. Ctra N-234, Km. 123 Tel.: 978 603 095. Teruel

PORTAL DEL CARMEN. Glorieta, 2. Tel.: 978 804 1563. Rubielos de Mora, Teruel

CASA EMILIO. Avda. de Madrid, 3. Tel.: 976 434 365. Zaragoza

CASBAS. Ctra. de Biescas . Tel.: 974 480 149. Senegue, Huesca

LA REBOTICA. San José 3. Tel.: 976 620 556. Cariñena. Zaragoza

DINASTÍA VIVANCO. N-232, km 442. Tel.: 941 322 340 Briones. La Rioja

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11/12/2014