Picking and Preparing the Perfect Peach

Picking and Preparing the Perfect Peach

Buying produce in-season, not only insures that you are eating fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of ripened perfection, you also save money. Peaches, for example, are at their lowest price in mid-summer. During the winter, you’ll pay a premium. Add to this the fact that the flavor, texture, and taste of produce that was picked way too early and then shipped hundreds of miles cannot possibly rival that of a fresh-picked peach.

It’s peach season in the Midwest! That means you won’t find a better selection (or a cheaper price) than right now.

  • What makes the perfect peach?
  • How should you store your fruit once you get it home?
  • How can you freeze them for later use?

I’ll answer all these questions and give you some great recipe ideas.  

This post is sponsored by Garden Spot Vegetable Farm. Located in Princeville, Illinois, owner, Jim Buckley and his family, cultivate 34 acres of vegetables and 375 fruit trees. Garden Spot is a no-spray farm, offering a variety of CSA packages. Check their Facebook page for current programs and options for available produce.

Learn to pick, store, and use produce with this FREE eBook.

(Posts on Under the Median contain affiliate links. To read our complete affiliate policy, click here. When you make a purchase through one of our links, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you.)

How to Pick Your Peach

Smell: When you are looking at a display of peaches you should smell the aroma of (you guessed it) peaches! If you can’t, then they were picked early and shipped to the store (probably quite a distance). Peaches actually do continue to ripen after they are off the tree. So, the process of early picking is recognized as a valid one. However, like more other fruits and vegetables, when allowed to stay on the tree as long as possible, the resulting fruit is sweeter and has a more vibrant flavor.

Appearance: Many people look for red spots, believing that this indicates ripeness. That is actually not true. That coloration is a result of exposure to sunlight. Instead, look at the spot right next to the stem. It’s unlikely that this area has been exposed to sunlight. If this area is yellow or has flecks of green, then the peach is not yet ripe. When you see a bold gold color, the fruit has reached its full ripeness. Avoid fruit with dark or discolored spots, indicating an internal bruise.

Texture: Gently squeeze the fruit. A ripe peach will have just a little give to it, but not seem either overly mushy or hard. If it is rock hard, that is a sure sign that it was picked early.

Storing Peaches

If your peaches are still in the process of ripening, place them on the counter in a bowl. Peaches are fragile. You can to avoid over-handling them or it’s likely that they will bruise.

Like pears, if you want to hasten the ripening process, place them in a paper bag. The release of internal gasses will speed up maturing. Be sure to check them every day so they don’t over-ripen.

Once peaches are at the desired level of ripeness, then move them to refrigeration. You can keep them there for 3-5 days. Left longer, the texture will deteriorate and become mealy.

Preserving Peaches

Freezing peaches for later use is the easiest way to extend their shelf life. Many recipes call for adding sugar or a simple syrup. However, we eat very little sugar and if you don’t know how you intend to later use the fruit, it’s better to err on the side of caution and just freeze them plain.

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Freezing Instructions

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Begin by peeling the peaches. You can grab skin at the bottom of the fruit with a sharp knife and move upward to remove the peel. However, there is an easier method. I’ve described it in the step-by-step instructions below:

  1. Lightly score the bottom of each peach with a sharp knife.
  2. Throw peaches into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds.
  3. Immediately plunge the peaches into ice water.
  4. The peels will be loosened and can now be easily removed.
  5. Slice the fruit into even pieces.
  6. Add lemon juice if desired. (See notes below)
  7. Lay pieces flat on a parchment paper or silicone mat layered baking tray.
  8. Allow to flash freeze until firm.
  9. Place in quart or gallon freezer bags. (See notes below)

Notes:

Adding a few tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with water will preserve the color of the fruit. Although I have frozen them without lemon juice. There is no change in the consistency of the fruit. But, it does brown over time without the lemon juice.

Be sure to date and label the freezer bag (You would be amazed at how similar apples and peaches look after being frozen for six months).

Recipes

Peaches are far more versatile than people believe. Yes, you can grab a fresh peach and just sink your teeth into that juicy goodness. That is a perfectly legitimate way to eat a peach. However, you can also use peaches in salads, soups, and desserts.

Salads

Whether pairing peaches with crunchy vegetables or crisp greens, you’ll find the perfect combination in these recipes. Honestly, I pile nearly anything on top of greens twice a day and call it a meal.

Peach and Vegetable Ceviche

Traditional ceviche is made from raw seafood marinated in lemon and lime juice as a preservative. In our case, this ceviche follows the same principle, only we are marinating lots and lots of fresh veggies in the lemon and lime juice. 


This dish is SO amazing that it immediately went to the top of my “make again” list! I diced as many veggies from our CSA box as I could in nice, even pieces. Then, I added green onion, and cucumber. Finally, I poured on 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of lime juice. Mix. Let marinate. And eat by the bowlful. It’s that easy! 

Peach and Tomato Salad

Grab peaches, tomatoes, and onion. Add basil, and feta cheese! Oh my!!  I’ll bet you could add some tofu or other protein and easily make this into a main dish salad! 

Peach Pecan Salad

When I made this recipe, I found it to be a nice balance of crunchy, sweet, and savory flavors. It’s as pretty to look at as it is to eat. The leftovers were still crisp the next day and had not wilted.

Mango and Peach Salsa

This salsa is appropriate as an accompaniment for many summertime recipes. Experiment to your heart’s content. I threw it on top of rice and beans. Leftovers were piled on top of salad greens, because I figure nearly anything can be used as part of a salad.

Dessert

Scalloped Peaches in the Crockpot

I came across this recipe when researching for scalloped vegetable recipes. It sounded so good that I made it for dessert! Not only was it easy, but it was absolutely delicious!

Recipe notes: I didn’t add any butter or oil to mine and found that it didn’t really need it. I also substituted some date syrup for the sugar and added far less than the 1 cup called for in the recipe. It was plenty sweet when it was done cooking. The whole recipe took me just about 10 minutes to prepare and throw it into the crockpot. It cooked in about 3 hours on “low” and was SO good. Add a scoop of nice cream to the top for a real treat! 

Mango Peach Bliss

How about a cool, delicious, smooth peach mango smoothie? My kids adore it when I make smoothies. I don’t do it often, because of the amount of fruit that smoothies take. However, if you have a lot of peaches, then this would be a sure winner.

Country Peach Preserves (no canning equipment or pectin needed)

I love it when someone makes a recipe quick, but delicious! There are just three ingredients in these peach preserves: peaches, sugar, and lemon juice. That’s it! The combination of lemon juice and sugar help the mixture set. No pectin is needed for this super easy (and not too time consuming) recipe. Do give it a try.

Soup

Chilled Peach Soup

I have always felt slightly weird eating fruit based soups. It’s almost like indulging in dessert before the meal begins. Then, I remember that fruit soup has all healthy ingredients. The perfectly sweet wholesome goodness of fresh fruit is fine any time of the day. This recipe from Whole Foods is fantastic! 

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