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Ougon peaches are a medium to large varietal, averaging 8 to 10 ounces in weight, and have a round, oval, to ovate shape slightly tapering to a point on the non-stem end. The fruit’s skin is thin, smooth, and taut, showcasing a bright yellow to golden yellow-orange hue. Ougon peaches are distinguished from other yellow peach varieties by the absence of red blush, a trait common in many yellow cultivars. Underneath the surface, the yellow flesh is semi-firm with an aqueous, tender, and lightly chewy texture. The flesh also encases a central, light brown pit, and when ripe, the flesh develops a melting, succulent consistency. Ougon peaches are aromatic and emit a honeyed, fruity scent with notes of mango. The peaches also contain a high sugar content mixed with moderate acidity, creating a balanced, sweet, and tangy flavor with apricot nuances.
Ougon peaches are available in the late summer through early fall.
Ougon peaches, botanically classified as Prunus persica, are a rare Japanese variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The fruits grow on deciduous trees and are only cultivated in a few prefectures, accounting for less than 1% of the peaches grown in Japan. Ougon peaches are also known as Ogonto, Ogon-to, and Golden peaches and are considered a rare, luxury fruit. Farmers meticulously prune the peach trees to grow a single fruit on each branch, and the peaches are often covered in bags to protect the fruit’s surface from sun, insect, and heat damage. Ougon peaches are only available for a short season, and local vendors commonly sell out of the fruits the day they release them to market. Ougon peaches are also packaged and sold in ornate boxes as an expensive gift for family and friends.
Ougon peaches are a good source of vitamin C to boost the immune system and vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning. The fruits are also a source of antioxidants to protect the cells against free radical damage, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, phosphorus and calcium to strengthen bones and teeth, and other amounts of iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Ougon peaches have a sweet flavor and juicy, soft flesh well suited for fresh preparations. The rare fruits are challenging to find in local markets, and once found, the peaches are consumed straight, out of hand to savor and appreciate the fruit’s authentic flavor. The peaches can be consumed with the skin on or peeled, depending on preference, and they can be sliced and tossed into salads, used as a fresh topping over cereal, pancakes, toast, and waffles, or blended into smoothies and fruit juices. Ougon peaches can also be sliced into fruit bowls, paired with other fruits in anmitsu, a Japanese dessert with fruits, red bean paste, and jelly, or made into premium liquor products, including golden peach wine, sake, or shochu. Beyond fresh uses, Ougon peaches are rarely cooked or incorporated into desserts as the fruits are generally expensive and rare. In Japan, the golden yellow peaches are often sold carefully wrapped in Styrofoam or placed in decorative packages to protect the fruit’s delicate skin. Ougon peaches pair well with other fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, cherries, plums, and apricots, cheeses including mascarpone, burrata, and feta, and herbs such as mint, basil, lavender, and marjoram. Whole, unwashed Ougon peaches should be ripened at room temperature away from direct sunlight. The fruits should never be squeezed to check for maturity as the skin is easily damaged. Instead, the peaches should be gently pressed around the stem, and if the flesh yields to the touch, they are ready to eat.
In the Nagano Prefecture in Japan, there is a type of Ougon peach known as the Kira-Kira, or “glitter peach,” which is considered the rarest of all the Ougon peaches. Kira-Kira peaches are annually selected by the Kawanakajima Co-Selection Office in Nagano, and the peaches must contain at least a sugar content of 13 Brix. These types of peaches are scanned using a sensor to measure sugar levels and are sold as a luxury fruit. Peaches, in general, are a highly prized, seasonal fruit in Japan and have historically symbolized friendship, exchanged between family and friends. Ougon peaches can be found in expensive gift boxes in Japanese supermarkets when they are in season. Ougon peaches are also treasured for their unusual golden hue, and there is a specialty type of Hi-Chews flavored with Ougon peaches in Japan.
Peaches are native to China near the upper Yellow River and have been cultivated for thousands of years. The fruits were introduced to Japan in the Early Ages and became popular in the Edo period, 1603 to 1868 CE, widely available throughout the country. The exact history of Ougon peaches is unknown, but some experts believe the variety may be a descendant of the kawanakajima hakutou peach, a white peach variety cultivated in the Nagano prefecture in the late 20th century. Other experts connect Ougon peaches to the golden queen peach, an heirloom variety first grown in New Zealand in 1908 and brought to Japan. Today Ougon peaches are grown in Yamanashi, Okayama, Nagano, Yamagata, Fukushima, and Akita prefectures and are sold through specialty distributors, local farms, and high-end fruit retailers.
Recipes that include Ougon Peaches. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Skinny Miss||Peach Salsa|
|Delightful Adventures||Vegan No Bake Peach Cheesecake Bites|
|One Ingredient Chef||Raw Peaches & Cream Cobbler|