A peach that is juicy and sweet—many say the best tasting of all peaches—and creamy with a pit that does not cling wrapped in a nearly fuzzless skin: I want that peach!
That is the almost ancient Chinese pan tao peach which also is called peento peach, Chinese flat peach, saucer peach, and Saturn peach—as in the rings of Saturn which this peach looks a bit like when its pit is popped from it flattened center.
Marketing has taken over the pan tao peach. You are most likely to find it displayed under the name Donut Peach, as in doughnut. Some have even thought to box these flattened peaches up like a box of deep-fried ring-shaped pastries. (After tasting a donut peach, you can decide which is more flavorful and better for you.)
The donut shaped pan tao peach will fit in the palm of your hand; it’s about 3 to 3½ inches (7.6-8.9 cm) across and half as tall. Size—and all of the attributes listed above—make this one of the best peaches for eating out of hand. But you can use the donut peach like any other peach: serve alone as a snack, add to fruits salads, make into pies, tarts, and cakes, bake into muffins, chop and add to salsa, or grill with other summer fruits.
The pan tao is one of the “silver” peaches. Ancient Chinese orchard keepers divided peaches into golden or yellow fleshed peaches and silver or white fleshed peaches. The pan tao was introduced to the United States from China to California in 1869 but has only recently gained wider acceptance.
The donut peach is much sweeter than yellow peaches and lower in acidity. Some recognize a hint of almond overtones in its mild flavor. It is velvety and creamy between the teeth.
Some recommend pushing the nearly visible pit right on through the flesh to attain the ring of Saturn look, but that could be a messy proposition: the donut peach is perhaps the most juicy peach. It might be better to bite around the pit and let the juice fall in your mouth or use a paring knife over a bowl to capture the extra juice.
The donut peach has a freestone (not clinging) pit about the size of a pistachio nut. Its skin is yellow with a red blush and little fuzz. That means you can eat this peach easily without peeling.
The pan tao peach is a heavy producer; one tree will produce nearly twice as many peaches as other peach trees. The pan tao is frost hardy, self fruitful, and blooms earlier and heavier in spring than most other peach varieties. Harvest will begin in late spring and extend to the end of summer. Pan tao peach varietal names include ‘Saturn’, ‘Saucer’, and ‘UFO’.