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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


A Peach
Photo by: Lord-Williams
melocotón, L. Prunus persica, Ar. duraqin, jhukh, tuffāh farsī (Persian apple), Fr. pêrcher, Eng. peach. Durazno is derived from L. dūracĭnus, pulp adhering to the pit or a clingstone peach or cherry, while melecotón is from L. malum, fruit, generally referring to the apple and came too mean a variety of the durazno. “Peach” is a corruption of persica, meaning “Persian apple.” Around 300 B.C. Theophrastus, the Greek philosopher, thinking it came from Persia, named this fruit for that country. Pliny rightfully claimed that it originated in northern China and spread to India and Persia. The peach was taken to Greece for cultivation during the times of Alexander the Great, 1st C A.D. From there, about 200 years after it was first cultivated in China, it spread through the Mediterranean and finally to northern Europe but was not cultivated in England until 1650.

A Persian claim to fame is the invention of an infusion or syrup made with the flowers and still given to Spanish children as a laxative. Avenzoar related that the peach is cold and humid. If inhaled, it strengthens those prone to fainting fits. Eating the peach, he claimed, creates stomach vapors. He recommended the pit as a cleaner and to beautify the face and peach pit oil dropped into the ear to sooth and evacuate it and to diminish deafness. The flowers, as well as the leaves and pits, may be toxic. In Spain, therefore, they were totally ground to avoid poisoning. Peach pit flour was used to make bread during wheat famines. Juan Ruíz is the first to document the peach in Christian Spain. His Archpriest of Hita always kept peaches on hand in summer to give to pretty girls.
Pesche al vino bianco.....Peaches in White Wine
Photo from: Sante.boschianpest

The fruit is used in perfumes and added wine for the flavor and aroma as seen today in sangria. The fruit may be eaten raw, stewed or dried. A proverb in Spain is: Peras de vino, y vino de durazno.  (Pears poached in wine and peach wine.) Constable Miquel Lucas Iranzo offered them during festivities in the 1463 near the orchards of Baenza with melons, bread and wine.

Villena instructed that they should be peeled with a small curved knife while securing them with a trident. Then to cut the pulp in pieces up to the pit. They should be placed in wine using a two prong fork, he continued. They can be eaten in wine or without. He adds that to throw the pit into the bone bowl is bad manners. Oddly, in the 17th C. one reason Christians found Moors different was that they ate peaches. [AUT. II:O1979:352; Castro Alimentación. 1996:154; ES: Castro. “The Role.” Aug 3, 03; ES: Peach. Apr 7, 04; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:75:119; Mata. 1940:136; Ruíz/Brey. 1965:862b:144; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:42b:43a]


Peaches Ready for Stewing
Photo by: Lord-Williams

6 ½ - 7 lbs large peaches
 (between 20-30)
2 c chicken broth 

1 c peeled and blanched almonds 

2 c sugar 

2 tsp ginger scrapings 
1 tsp cinnamon[2]
½ tsp nutmeg[2]

Garnish: 1 tsp sugar and a sprig of mint for each dish


A Unique Dessert with a Medieval Twist
Photo by: Lord-Williams 
Peel and slice the peaches. Cook them in the broth until soft (about 10 minutes). Drain, reserving the liquid.

Grind the almonds. Add the liquid and let sit 20 minutes.

Grind the mixture again and strain the mixture through a coarse cloth into a pot. Warm the mixture and add sugar. When it becomes syrup add the peaches and the spices. Taste to insure they are sweet enough.

Serve in bowls and garnish with sugar and mint.

Quinces can be prepared in the same manner but they should be strained with the almonds. Taste to insure they are sweet enough.

The sauces are good for accompanying meat dishes

[1] See  blog titled Cuesco, published November 6, 2013, for a recipe for pit syrup.
[2] Addition by the Medieval Spanish Chef.

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