… well not a real alien obviously … but a rather delicious one with a celestial name. Introducing the “Saturn” or as it’s more commonly known “Doughnut” peach.
Now this flattened and kinda funny shaped little wonder may look like it’s come off second best in a beauty competition with its round and luscious bigger cousin, your regular peach, but trust me it has a whole arsenal of wonderfulness up its sleeve, that accounts for why we’ve been totally wooed by them, and eat them by the tonnes during their short season.
Saturn started life a gazillion years ago in China as a member of the tribe of rare “silver” peaches (pan tao) which were treated with such reverence that they were only planted within the walls of the Emperor’s royal compounds. This may have accounted for why, when they first came to the attention of the West about 200 years ago, we couldn’t naturalise them as they were so frost tender. The trees bud even early than cherries and so any (quite common) late frosts caused them to keel over and die. Enter the Rutgers Tree Fruit Research & Extension Centre (catchy name that isn’t it) in Nuu Joisey, USA. About 15 years ago after much trial and error they managed to produce a couple of frost resistant varieties – a small yellow fleshed Saturn called “sweet bagel” and a larger silver (white) fleshed Saturn called “Jupiter”. A major bonus was that these trees are prolific fruit producers with crops that are often at least twice that of their big round lazy hairy cousins.
Supermarkets embraced them straight away as with their flattened shape they were easy to transport, store, and stack on display. The name Doughnut peach was born and supermarkets then started boxing them in long boxes … just like … wait for it … “real” doughnuts, and promoting them as “healthy fast food”. Truth is that they sold themselves really – they are sweet, low in acid, free stone (so no more wrestling with the flesh around the stone and getting it stuck in your teeth) the skin is thin and has no “fuzz” (so no more fuzz face burns around your lips). They are smaller than the round cousins, making them child hand size friendly, and there’s none of that juice running down my arm to my elbow thing going on.