Fresh Peaches

How to pick, peel and ripen a peach.

How to Pick a peach

Choose peaches with your hands, eyes, and nose.  The fruit should be firm.  A ripe peach feels heavy in the palm of your hand.  Look for the golden or creamy background color of the skin at the stem of the peach.  Don't be duped by the provocative blush color (varieties are being developed that are nearly 90% blush).  the background color of the skin is all important.

Size is also crucial.  Bigger peaches are sweeter, more fully developed in flavor.  Sniff the peach you're considering: You can smell the nectar in a riper peach.

Coax your peaches to ripeness

You can hurry the ripening process by placing the peaches in a brown paper bag.  If you've picked firm, ripe fruit with a good background color at the stem end, the peaches will soften in 3 or 4 days, and a lovely fragrance will beckon you.  They'll keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days longer. 

All peaches are classified as either freestone or cling.  The flesh of a cling peach clutches at the stone of the fruit, while the freestone varieties relinquish their pit more readily.  You'll rarely find cling peaches at the market:  their firm flesh holds up well when cooked and is prized by commercial canners.  The peaches you find at the grocery or farmers' market are almost always freestones.

How to peel a peach

If you are needing to use a peeled peach the best way to get fuzzy skin off of peaches is to quickly blanch them before you peel them.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While the water heats, cut an X into the bottom of each peach.  Drop the peaches into the boiling water and cook just until the skin begins to loosen, 30 to 60 seconds.  Drain the peaches and then plunge them into cold water to stop them from cooking further.  The peel should slip right off. 

Now if you are in a big hurry you may also try a serrated peeler if you have one.  Also works great.