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How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, May 1, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Equal parts cookbook, agricultural history, chemistry lesson and produce buying guide, this densely packed book is a food-lover's delight. California food writer Parsons (How to Read a French Fry) begins with a fascinating tale of agribusiness trumping our taste buds en route to supplying year-round on-demand produce, and how farmer's markets are bringing back both appreciation of, and access to, local and seasonal foods. He then takes readers on a delectable season-by-season produce tour, from springtime Artichokes Stuffed with Ham and Pine Nuts to midwinter Candied Citrus Peel, and provides readers with the lowdown on where each fruit or vegetable is grown and how to choose, store and prepare it. Along the way, he detours into low-stress jam making, the chemistry of tomato flavor, a portrait of two peach-growing stars of the Santa Monica farmer's market and why cucumbers make some people burp. For readers who have always wondered where their food comes from, why it tastes the way it does and how to pick a peach, a melon or a green bean, this book will be an invaluable resource. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The lust for local flavor finds an eloquent spokesman in Russ Parsons..."How to Pick a Peach" is his answer to the somber reality of the supermarket produce section." (New York TImes )

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547053800
  • ASIN: B002CMLR9M
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,370,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book serves both as an encyclopedic reference work, and as an informative, engaging read. The author admits that not ALL fruits and veggies are included, however it seems that all of the important ones are, particularly those that we need help with selecting. There is an unbelievable amount of basic information about picking fruits and vegetables, previously unavailable in collected form! Add in the historical research on farming, the updated perspective on farming trends and issues, and you have the ultimate shopper's guide, best kept in the glove compartment (after reading, of course) so that it's always there with you when you're going to market. "How to pick a Peach" should be required reading for every cook in America.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've heard that the juice of a really good peach will run down your arms all the way to your elbows. One actually did make it almost to my elbows the other day. Not the kind of peaches you most often find in a supermarket, with only one peach in many having any juice or flavor.

The question is, "How do you select and store fresh fruits and veggies to insure the maximum excellence in taste and texture?" The answers are found in Russ Parsons' well written book, "How To Pick a Peach." He classifies each fruit and vegetable by season and not only tells you how to pick the best ones, but also how to store and prepare them. Russ also gives you several simple recipes for using each fruit and vegetable.

Some fragile veggies such as peas, corn and green beans should be eaten right after they are purchased. Some veggies, such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes and winter squash should never be refrigerated. When refrigerated the starch in potatoes turns to sugar and they lose flavor. This was new to me.

He gives an interesting short history of each fruit and veggie. He also gives a history of industrial farming and the cost of compromise when big farmers take over the production of our produce, which I really enjoyed. Now that I have read "How To Pick a Peach" it will make a valuable reference tool.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As others have mentioned, this book is a nice reference and fun to read. I have tried only a few recipes, but they have all been WONDERFUL. To me, they give the ideal kinds of insights for simple ways to prepare food more effectively which can be extrapolated beyond the exact recipe. After trying the beet/cuc/feta salad, and not having much experience with beets, I continued to make a cold beet salad for my 3yearold all summer, at her request! Also, after preparing eggplant in ways I was accustomed and accepting that my daughter didn't like it, I tried his recipe for steamed eggplant (go figure!) and again my 3yearold loved it! (So did I. It's now my favorite eggplant preparation as well.)
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Format: Paperback
Believe it or not, I have a writing life outside Amazon reviews, and one of my projects is an ongoing food blog with a heavy emphasis on kitchen science. As it happens, Russ Parsons is, while not one of my go-to authors, definitely someone whose work I like to keep around; his collection of essays and recipes, How to Read a French Fry, is a good book to sit down and browse just to learn dribs and drabs that might be covered in a more firehose-like manner in Cookwise or On Food and Cooking -- interesting, but sometimes a bit inessential. I'd wager I like this one better.

"How To Pick A Peach" covers numerous different varieties of produce, and again, there's a lot of material in here that can be found other places. But Parsons takes a slightly different approach from books like Rebecca Rupp's awesome Blue Corn and Square Tomatoes, focusing heavily on many of the reasons why modern produce is often less than optimal and offering solutions about what can be done about it. In particular, having only been published in 2007, it has a lot to say about relatively recent developments such as the widespread appearances of farmer's markets and their role in keeping small family farmers in business and rare and exotic vegetables and fruits in circulation.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Parsons is a food and wine columnist for the LA Times. He tackles many types of fruit and vegetable in their own chapter. A bit of the history of where each type of apple or peach came from, the most important qualities of different varieties, the best use with many recipes included, and the constant forces of putting the interest of the farmer, transporter, and store ahead of flavor and the customer are covered for each. He suggests the ways to pick out the best fruit, store, cook or prepare and eat each. For virtually all fruits and vegetables it is best to take the heaviest for their size, the densest. Any aroma should be strong and pleasant. A range of recipes are included at the end of each chapter, many with a number of fruits and vegetables. It is an excellent book with just the right amount of information about the many aspects of picking out and enjoying healthy, delicious produce.

In the case of cherries he notes there were many hundreds of varieties and now we have mostly Bing cherries left. It turns out this is one of the very best cherries and was found on an Oregon farm in 1875 by a Chinese workman named Bing. Cherries require 700 hours of temperature below 45 degrees in order to save up enough energy to produce a good crop of cherries. This limits the areas where they are grown productively. California is experimenting with varieties that mature earlier ( a great advantage for Asia markets that pay 10 times the price). Washington is trying to extend the growing season into the summer. He also includes the chemical names of the chief substances responsible for the aroma and flavor in all the fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes bought in the store are the butt of many jokes and complaints for good reason.
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