How to Choose the Perfect Peach
When summer rolls around, the hunt for perfect peaches begins. Finding peaches with a balance of sun-ripened sweetness and succulent flesh is like hitting the jackpot. Peach lovers anxiously await peak season for the opportunity to enjoy a southern delicacy. Knowing how to buy good peaches will ensure that you get to enjoy the cream of the crop this season. With a few simple tips, you'll find delicious, ready-to-eat peaches every time.
This guide will explain how to choose your peaches this summer.
Peach Buying Guide
The first batch of fresh Georgia peaches is picked in May, and more are harvested until early August. Some of the best peaches of the season are available in June and July. The beginning of summer is the ideal time to stock up on locally grown peaches.
You can prepare for the harvest season by deciding which varieties of peaches you plan to buy. There are over 300 varieties of peaches grown in the U.S, and each one has a unique flavor and texture. Some peaches are better suited for eating fresh, while others work better for cooking, baking or preserving. Choosing the perfect peaches depends on your taste buds and how you plan to enjoy your bounty. There are two key factors to consider when selecting the best peach.
1. Freestone Vs. Clingstone
The peach is a member of the stone fruit family, which means they have a hard pit in the center. The way the pit attaches to the flesh is used to classify different types of peaches with unique qualities. Here are the distinct features of each variety:
- Freestone: This type of pit attaches to the flesh loosely and falls away when you cut open the peach. Freestone peaches have a classic peach taste with a hint of sour tang. The balanced flavor and firm texture make these peaches great for baking, canning or enjoying as a snack.
- Clingstone: As the name implies, this type of pit clings to the flesh and can be challenging to remove. Clingstone peaches are often softer, sweeter and juicier than freestone. The delicate texture and sugary flavor make this variety ideal for eating fresh, blending into smoothies or making peach jam.
- Semi-Freestone: This fruity hybrid is a combination of freestone and clingstone peaches. They're soft and sweet like a clingstone with the convenience of a freestone pit that separates easily. You can use them for almost any recipe.
2. White vs. Yellow
Most of the peaches grown in the U.S have white or yellow flesh. The flesh color indicates the texture and flavor that you can expect. Here are the key differences:
- White flesh: As their name implies, white peaches have pale flesh with a hint of pink near the center. When they're ripe, the outer skin turns a deep rosy hue. They're often sweeter and more delicate than yellow peaches. Their high sugar content is perfect for making jams and syrups or cooking on the grill.
- Yellow flesh: Ripe yellow peaches have reddish-orange skin. They're the most common peach in the U.S, with a classic Georgia peach flavor. Their bright yellow flesh is slightly more acidic, creating a hint of tartness. You can use them for almost anything, from sweet and tangy desserts to savory meat and cheese boards.
How to Pick the Perfect Peach
When you're staring at endless rows of fresh peaches, it can seem overwhelming trying to pick the best ones. Finding the ripest and most delicious fruits is easier than you might think. Follow these tips for buying mouthwatering peaches.
1. Check the Label
If you know which peaches you want, you can go straight to that section and start looking for the best fruits. Grocery stores and farmer's markets usually have large signs or stickers to label their produce. If you're not sure which is your favorite, buy a variety and keep a list of which ones you like the most for next time.
2. Inspect the Skin
While you can't judge a book by its cover, you can judge a peach by its skin. Here are some things to look for:
- Vibrant color: Behind the reddish blush caused by the sun, the peach's background color can help determine its ripeness. Yellow peaches should have a rich golden hue, and white peaches should be more of a creamy yellow shade. If the peaches are slightly green, they're not fully ripe.
- Bruising: If the outside of the peach is scratched, bruised or dented, it's probably overripe. Look for peaches in good condition with smooth skin.
- Wrinkles: Avoid peaches with dry, shriveled skin. Wrinkles are a sign that the peaches are old. They should only have one well-defined crease that runs from the stem to the bottom point of the fruit.
3. Feel the Consistency
The texture of a peach can tell you a lot about its ripeness. Hold the fruit in your hand and carefully wrap your fingers around the sides. It should feel heavy for its size. Press down gently to check the consistency.
If it feels hard like a baseball, it was picked too early. A tennis ball consistency is also underripe but may soften over time. The ideal texture is soft yet not too mushy. Peaches with some give are ready to eat or ripen for a few more days at home. If they bruise when you touch them, you should plan to eat them right away.
4. Take a Whiff
After you've thoroughly inspected the outside of the peach, give it a quick whiff. Avoid pressing your nose to the skin in case you decide not to purchase them. Ripe peaches should smell sweet and fruity like they taste. If there's no smell, they're not quite ready. You can still buy them if you're willing to wait a few days for them to ripen fully.
Pick Peaches Fresh From the Farm
Visit Lane Southern Orchards this summer to get sweet southern peaches fresh from the tree. We've been growing peaches since 1908 on our 5,000-acre orchard in the heart of Georgia. You'll find some of the best local peaches picked within hours of your purchase. You can buy peaches from our Roadside Market or have them shipped right to your door at the peak of freshness.
If you can't wait until summer, we offer an assortment of delectable peach products on our website year-round. From syrups and jams to indulgent gift baskets, you're sure to find something to satisfy your peachy cravings. Shop online or visit the farm for fresh produce, delicious treats and a taste of southern hospitality.