August is peach season, and that means it’s time to pick up the peachiest peaches to eat and enjoy while you can. But how do you know if a peach is ripe? How do you store them so they last? We have the answer to these questions and more.
There are two main types of peaches; freestone, in which the pit separates easily from the flesh, and clingstone, in which the pit “clings” to the flesh. Both freestone and clingstone can come in either white or yellow varieties. While yellow peaches tend to be hardier and more acidic in taste, the more delicate white peach is known for its sweetness and almost floral aroma.
And let’s not forget about the nectarine. Nectarines are nearly genetically identical to peaches—in fact, they’re so similar that they can be used interchangeably in cooking. The only difference? Nectarines have a recessive gene that gives them smooth, bare skin instead of that famous fuzz.
There’s no need to target pinker peaches, since a red blush doesn’t indicate ripeness. Instead, look for a yellow or creamy color with little to no green. Peaches should give in to gentle pressure and have a subtly sweet scent—a heavy peach smell might actually be a sign that the fruit is past its prime. Unlike strawberries and grapes, peaches will continue to ripen after they are harvested, so if you pick an unripe peach, wait two or three days (three to five if you keep them in the refrigerator) and they should be ready to eat or cook with.
Remove the pit of your peach by using a knife to cut all the way around the perimeter, following the natural indentation of the fruit. Once cut in half, the pit will stay on one peach piece. Then just pop out the pit with your fingers or carefully with a knife.
You can store peaches right on your kitchen counter for up to three days. In the refrigerator, they’ll last up to five days, but sure to let them sit out for at least 20-30 minutes after you remove them from cold storage to warm up and sweeten. Canned peaches can last up to one year!
To peel whole peaches, all you need is a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water and a small paring knife. While you wait for the water to boil, make a small “x” at the bottom of each peach, just lightly cutting through the skin. Then completely submerge your peaches in the boiling water. After about 40 seconds, carefully remove the peaches and place them in the ice bath to cool them off. After the peaches cool, you should be able to easily slide the skin off of the fruit, starting at the corners of the “x” on the base.