A Guide to Peaches
“An apple is an excellent thing, until you have tried a peach.” George du Maurier
It seems that Mr. du Maurier must have tasted a ripe Georgia peach! My state is famous for its Georgia peaches. In fact, as most of you probably know, my state is known as the “Peach State.” Our climate and soils are perfect for producing sweet, juicy fruits with loads of flavor. A Georgian can tell if a peach is fully ripe with just one little nibble – the sweet juice should run down your chin. Oh, and by the way, other states grow peaches, too. Of course, Georgia peaches are the best.
Eat a Peach
Eat a peach! Not only are peaches delicious – they’re healthy, too. They’re practically fat free, and they’re good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, potassium, copper, and dietary fiber. A medium peach has less than 70 calories, which is a real bargain, calorically speaking.
There are three categories of peaches:
Clingstone – the flesh is secured to the pit
Freestone – the flesh readily separates from the pit
Semi-freestone – the flesh clings somewhat to the pit
Types of Peaches - Peach Varieties - Peach Season
Below are some of the most popular types of peaches. I've also included peach season for the peach varieties.
Camden – a clingstone peach of medium firmness. Harvested in mid-May.
Goldprince – a clingstone peach that’s very firm. Harvested in late May- early June.
Flordaking – a soft clingstone peach that’s harvested from late May through early June.
Candor – a semi-freestone peach that’s usually ready in mid-May. It has a medium-firm texture.
Redhaven – a semi-freestone peach with a firm texture. Harvest begins in mid-June.
Summerprince – another semi-free variety with a firm texture. Peach season for Summerprince begins in mid-late June.
Juneprince – a semi-freestone peach that’s very firm. As the name implies, it’s harvested in early June.
Encore – a medium-firm freestone peach that’s harvested in late July.
Redglobe – a firm freestone variety. Harvest usually begins in late June.
Majestic – a freestone peach with a firm texture. Peach season is in late June - early July.
Flameprince – a freestone variety. This firm peach is harvested in early August.
Suwanee – a medium-soft freestone variety. Harvest usually begins in mid-June.
Tyler –a freestone peach with a medium-firm texture. It’s usually harvested in late July-early August.
How to pick a peach from a tree
How and Where to Buy Fresh Peaches
You can find peaches in grocery stores, at roadside stands, and at farmers’ markets. The best way to get your peaches, however, is to harvest them yourself at a pick-you-own orchard.
If you plan to use the peaches for jams, preserves, jellies, and pickles, you’ll probably want the clingstone varieties. Most people prefer this type for preserving in these ways. For eating, freezing, and making pies, choose the freestone varieties. The semi-freestone can be used for all purposes, but they’ll require a little more work than the freestone fruits.
Don’t rely on color alone to check for ripeness. Fully ripened peaches will have a delightful aroma. Choose fruits that give a little when you hold them firmly in your hand. If the peach is green around the stem, it’s not ripe. Also, the skin should be completely filled out and the crease should be deep. If the skin is wrinkled, the peach is past its prime. Be sure to check for worm holes and blemishes, too.
If you’re picking your own peaches from an orchard, pick those that separate easily from the tree. If it doesn’t want to let go, it isn’t ripe. Also, pull the fruits with equal pressure on both sides. Don’t dig your fingertips into the flesh – you’ll cause bruising. Don’t pile your peaches deeply into buckets, either, or those on the bottom will be bruised from the weight of their companions on top. Peaches should be stacked only 12-14 inches deep.
How to Store Peaches
If you discover that the peaches you bought aren’t ripe enough, leave them at room temperature for a couple of days to soften. You can hasten this process by wrapping each peach in newspaper. This traps the gas emitted by the fruits that cause ripening, which will help soften the fruits. With peaches, however, if they weren’t ripe when picked, they’ll never get any riper. They’ll get softer, but not riper.
Once your peaches are soft, store them in your refrigerator crisper for up to five days.
To keep peaches longer, freeze them. They must be frozen in liquid to avoid freezer burn and to maintain taste. The liquid is up to you. You can use apple juice, white grape juice, peach juice, pear juice, or a sugar syrup.
To make the syrup, heat six cups of water with sugar or Splenda until completely dissolved. For a light syrup, use two cups of sugar. For a medium syrup, use three cups of sugar, and for a sweet syrup, use four cups of sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, let the syrup cool.
Next, you’ll need to peel your peaches, and this is easy to do. Just drop the washed peaches in boiling water for 30-45 seconds, depending on the size of the peaches. Remove the peaches from their bath with a pierced spoon and place them in an ice-water bath for 3-5 minutes. The skins will slip off easily!
Slice the peaches and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle the slices with lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to prevent browning. Stir gently.
Next, place the desired amount of peaches into freezer boxes or bags and cover with syrup solution. Remove any air from the bags and freeze. The peaches will keep for about 10 months in the freezer.
For peach recipes, click the links below.
Great peach recipes:
- Pastry School: Holle's Georgia Peach Pie
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