The peach is the fruit of a small deciduous tree native to China, now cultivated extensively in temperate zones throughout the world. It is round and medium-sized, usually between 3- and 5-inches in diameter, and has a fine, slightly downy, yellow and pink skin.
Peaches are most often eaten as a dessert fruit, or as part of a salad or sundae; they are also a popular canning and preserving fruit. They may be cooked, usually poached gently in syrup, then added to flans, tarts and gateaux. The classic dish PEACH MELBA contains poached fresh peaches as does PECHES .
To poach peaches, blanch, peel, halve and stone 1 pound of firm ripe peaches. In a large saucepan, dissolve 6 ounces of sugar in 10 fluid ounces of water over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Add a vanilla pod to the syrup and bring to the boil. Boil the syrup for 5 minutes or until it has thickened. Reduce the heat to low and add the peach halves to the pan, cut sides down. Poach them gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until they are tender but still firm. With a slotted spoon, remove the peach halves from the syrup. They are now ready to serve. (The poaching syrup may be strained and served as a sauce with the peaches.)