Peaches contain a goodly amount of potassium and also contain vitamins C and A. They have diuretic and laxative properties, aid in the stimulation of digestive juices, and add color to the complexion. Peach leaf tea destroys worms. As with most foods, prolonged cooking will leach vital nutrients from peaches.
Dried peaches have a higher concentration of nutritives, but be aware that most commercially-dried peaches are treated with sulfur dioxide to enhance color and prolong storage life. Be sure to read the label if you are allergic to sulphur.
Like its cousin the almond, peach pits contain a toxic substance known as hydrocyanic acid or cyanide which should be avoided. Ingestion of large quantities of the pits can be fatal.
Out of the hundreds of varieties of peaches, each can be classified as clingstone, freestone, or semi-freestone. In general, most peaches are classified by how firmly the flesh attaches to the pit.
Clingstone: These are so named because the flesh clings stubbornly to the stone or pit. In the Northern hemisphere, this type is the first to be harvested, ripening May through August. The flesh is yellow, with bright red touches closest to the stone. They have a soft texture, and are juicier and sweeter — perfect for desserts. This is the preferred variety for jellies, jams, and canning. Although clingstones are tasty eaten fresh, they are seldom found in the local market. The commercial industry uses clingstones for peaches canned in various levels of syrup.
Freestone: As its name implies, the stone is easily removed from this variety, making it a good choice for eating fresh. Harvest begins in late May and continues to October. This is the type most commonly found in your local grocery store. They tend to be larger than clingstones, with a firmer, less juicy texture, yet still sweet. They are excellent for canning and baking purposes.
Semi-freestone: This newer type is a hybrid of the clingstone and freestone. It is good for general purposes, both fresh and canned.