Donut peach both delightful, healthy

A ripe Saturn donut peach can be a delicious and healthy snack.

A ripe Saturn donut peach can be a delicious and healthy snack.


Did you know that donuts are a delicious and healthy snack? Donut peaches, that is.

Originally known as the Chinese Flat Peach or pan tao, donut peaches have made a comeback since their introduction to California from China in 1869.

Donut peaches can be either white fleshed or yellow fleshed. The Saturn peach, also called Peento, Chinese Flat or Saucer peach, is a delicious white fleshed peach with the donut shape. Saturn peaches are adapted to Missouri conditions, although most of the production of the flat type peaches is found in California and Washington. A new variety named UFO has been introduced from the University of Florida, but it is adapted to warmer areas.

We have one Saturn peach tree in our horticulture garden that yields delightful donuts each year if the weather cooperates.

The Saturn cultivar was released by the New Jersey fruit breeding program and was named by Starks Nursery in 1985. It is a bit thin skinned, so it is more difficult to handle in shipping. It is sweeter than yellow peaches and lower in acidity. It is flat compared with regular peaches and has a depression in the center at both the top and bottom — where the pit is located and where the doughnut “hole” should be.

Picking Peentos is easy, although if it is a bit too ripe on the tree, the skin on the top of the donut may come off where it touches the branch. Select bright colored peaches that do not show green on the skin and give slightly to pressure when gently squeezed. You will have to pick a tree a couple of times in order to harvest all of the peaches at a proper stage. Peaches will ripen a bit more after picking, and will last about one to two days in the refrigerator once fully ripe.

How do you eat a donut peach? Well, it’s easy. Hold the middle — on the top and bottom of the pit — with your thumb and index finger. Eat around the outside until all that is left is the pit. It is not as messy as eating a round tree ripened peach and you don’t end up with peach juice dripping down your chin. You also can slice the peach from the edge to the pit, like wedges of a pie, and pull the wedges apart. The donut peach has a “freestone” pit that is smaller than a regular peach pit.

Direct comments or questions about this column to horticulture adviser Odneal at