Why Are Peaches Fuzzy?

Peaches, or prunus persica, are a tasty summertime fruit, popular for their delicious sweet juices and vibrant red orange color. Soft fuzz lines their fine skin, which just barely preserves the sugary insides. Since peach skin is so thin, insects and bacteria can easily penetrate it, and the fruit quickly bruises and rots.

However, peach fuzz is a defense mechanism that protects the fruit from insects, bacteria, and rainwater. The fuzz wards off bugs attracted to the sweet fruit. Due to the strange texture of the fuzz, insects are less likely to land on the peaches and eat the fruit. Additionally, the tiny hairs support rain droplets and prevent them from siting directly on the delicate skin. During light showers or morning dew, the skin stays dry and the peaches are less prone to bacteria and rotting. Nevertheless, heavy rains wet the peaches, and, of course, the fruit eventually goes bad.

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On the other hand, nectarines are fuzz-less peaches. They belong to the same species as peaches, but posses a recessive trait responsible for hair-less skin. Their super smooth skin allows raindrops to slide right off. This advantage helps to feed the roots and keep nectarine trees hydrated. Due to natural selection, nectarine skin has become smoother with every generation. Trees that grow nectarines with the slickest skin are in return the healthiest and most likely to survive and reproduce. As a result, more nectarine trees yield fruit with smooth, slippery skin, even though the fuzz-less trait is not a dominant one. Unfortunately, without fuzz, insects and water cause the nectarines to brown and rot more easily than peaches.

For a sweet summer treat, combine peaches, nectarines, and plums.  This fruit crisp is a simple way to showcase ripe, delicious fruit.

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Begin by slicing the fruit and arrange the pieces however you like.

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Then add a crumble topping, bake, and serve!

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Peach, Nectarine, and Plum Crisp

4 cups peach, nectarine, and plum, sliced

2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup flour

1 cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, cold

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine the fruit, lemon juice and cornstarch in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, add the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a fork.

Arrange the fruit in a greased dish and top with the crumble.  Or, combine the fruit and crumble and then transfer to the dish.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until crumble is golden and crisp.

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