For the past six decades, the Masumoto family has been growing a wide variety of peaches at their Central Valley farm. Now they've written a new book, "The Perfect Peach," showcasing this delightful summer fruit, including recipes and tips on how to pick the best peaches for baking, cooking and eating straight from the tree.
Run by David Mas Masumoto, his wife Marcy and now their daughter Nikiko, the farm also cultivates nectarines and grapes, but it's clear that their peaches are their star crop.
Marcy Masumoto and her daughter Nikiko joined Take Two to give us tips about how to pick the perfect peach and they explain why growing peaches is like being in a serious relationship.
Nikiko on the ups and downs of growing peaches:
"Every year is a roller coaster of emotions. What my dad has taught me is that farming is something personal. So we care for our peach trees as if we would friends, as if we would people we're dating. We really try to listen to their needs, we get frustrated, heartbroken, even. Just today in the fields I saw a branch that snapped and it just tugged at my heart. I hope that that translates. The personal connection and the effort that we put into the farm translates into the flavor."
Nikiko on the different "body parts" of a peach:
"There's a whole anatomy of the peach. I'm even still learning many of them. One of our varieties, the Suncrest, one of its challenges is that its tip is very pronounced. In the industry it's known as a tuippy peach. These words, the shoulder, the suture, the cheeks, the blush, the background color, they really help us to descrive the peach and how to look for ripeness, specifically, especially with background color."
Marcy on what makes a perfect-tasting peach:
"What we found is its so personal. For me, the perfect peach is one that explodes in your mouth with flavor, just the right combination of sweetness and tartness, together with a peachy flavor, juicy and it just brings you back to someplace, sometime in your memory banks when you celebrated summer and that perfect peach elicits all of that."
Marcy on the versatility of peaches:
Oftentimes people don't think of a fruit in a salad, in an entree, and what we've discovered with peaches is they're so versatile, so fun to incorporate into a variety of dishes. For example, Nikkiko developed a fantastic peach gazpacho, which is a cold peach soup, which is just so fresh and delightful with cucumber and garlic and seasonings that just wake up your palate. It's just beautiful in that way. There's another recipe that I developed, which is an asian-influenced recipe that's called shaking beef with peaches, which is in essence a stor fry beef with peaches over a bed of lettuce with a light lime vinaigrette. i think it's a perfect summertime dinner entree.
Marcy on how to tell whether a peach is ripe or not:
"Some peaches will continue to ripen after they've been picked, as long as they are ripe enough, and that has to do with both feel and color, so what we look for is what we call the background color. So, ignore the red. We're not interested in red, red doesn't make any difference in terms of ripeness. You're looking for the background color, which is usually a yellow color, especially up near the shoulders' the stem end of the peach.
"Fruit that is ready to eat will definitely be more on the golden even amber side of that color spectrum. The second thing is the feel. If the peach is hard, leave it. it needs much more time. if it has a little give, sort of like a tennis ball, that's what you're looking for. if you squeeze it and you've left an indent, that fruit is ready to eat right now."