In peach condition

The fruit smells good, tastes great and can help in the fight against cancer


By Ruth Joseph, August 19, 2010
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What could be more glorious than sinking your teeth into a sun-ripened peach? As you relish the glorious juice, you can admire its beautiful pink- and gold-streaked skin and revel in its glorious scent.

What is more amazing is that this wonderful fruit also carries with it new hope for cancer sufferers. Medical News Today reports that scientists have discovered that cancer cells died after treatment with peach and plum extracts in laboratory tests at the Texas Agri-life Research Institute.

They concluded: "Not only did the cancerous cells keel over, but the normal cells were not harmed in the process."

Dr David Byrne, the Agri-life plant breeder, reported that: "There is a five-fold difference in the toxic intensity. You can put it at a level where it will kill the cancer cells - the very aggressive ones and not the normal ones.'

The beneficial effect is thought to be caused by compounds called phenols, which exist naturally in peaches, plums and nectarines.

Ultimately it is believed that breeders will manage to grow new crops with extra-high ratios of the chemicals which appear to have a valuable role to play in disease prevention and inhibition.

No wonder the peach was believed by the Chinese to be a blessed fruit, and how fascinating that they believed it to be a symbol of long life.

Its name stems from the idea that it originated in Ancient Persia, although we now know that peaches were first found in China and were transported along the Silk Road to the Middle East.

In Korea, rows of peach trees were planted all around the countryside as the fruit was believed to be a source of happiness, honour, riches and longevity.

These days we simply adore the flavour. A medium 75g peach has 30 calories, so should certainly feature in the weight-watcher's diet. It is also high in potassium and provides eight per cent of the body's vitamin C requirement.

And how best to eat them? In Florence, a charming waiter once deftly skinned and sliced a peach for me, sprinkled it with castor sugar, then poured prosecco over the dish - it tasted wonderful.

Equally good is halving them and stuffing the centres with crushed Amaretti biscuits, the juice and rind of a grated lemon and, if you're feeling extravagant, a dash of Amaretto liqueur.

Or fill your peach halves with low-fat cream cheese, to which you have added a handful of raisins, the juice and rind of a lemon, a drop of vanilla essence and a little of the syrup plus pieces of finely chopped stem ginger.

Either recipe will be delicious baked until the fruit is tender or popped under the grill until golden and luscious.

Peaches are perfect combined with meringues, cream or ice-cream. Or why not try my Easy Delicious Peach Cobbler - a wonderful dessert and a good use of those punnets of peaches that never quite seem to ripen.

Easy Delicious Peach Cobbler

Serves 4

Ingredients

● I punnet of fresh peaches
● 1 205 g tin peaches in own juice
● 1 tablespoon cornflour
● 25g, 4oz self-raising flour
● 25g, 1oz fair-trade soft brown sugar
● 2 tablespoons of vanilla soya yoghurt
● 1 free-range organic egg
● Grated rind 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon
● Pinch salt
● Sprinkling of castor sugar

Method

● Cut stones off fresh peaches and put into a microwavable bowl. Add tinned fruit and juice.
● Microwave for 10 minutes.
● Leave to cool.
● Strain off liquid and whisk it carefully with cornflour so there are no lumps. Add fruit.
● Pour into 2 pint pudding dish.
● Sieve self-raising flour in large bowl.
● Beat eggs, yoghurt, lemon rind and juice together. Stir into flour.
● You should have a sticky dough - if not add a little yoghurt.
● Scoop spoonfuls of the dough onto peach mixture.
● Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 180°C, 350°F, gas 4 for 15 minutes or until golden.

    Last updated: 11:19am, August 19 2010