Peach season is the best season, in our humble opinion. This fuzzy fruit has flesh so sweet and juicy, it’s a paragon of summertime pleasure. But don’t book it to the produce aisle unless you know how to store peaches properly (or you might end up with a bunch of mealy, mushy bummers). This guide to best peach practices will help you avoid common pitfalls, so you can carry home a case of nature’s candy and enjoy your purchase down to the last beautiful bite.
How to Store Ripe Peaches
Plump, ready-to-eat peaches will continue ripening off the tree, and they’ll reach the point of no return faster than you think. Follow this method for storing ripe produce and everything will be (or stay) peachy keen.
To slow down the ripening process, move your peaches from the kitchen counter to the fridge—the cool, dark environment will keep the fruit fresh for a little while longer. But keep in mind that the delicate skin of peaches is particularly prone to bruising, so make plenty of room before relocating your fruit to the refrigerator. And here’s another tip: Peaches take on a less than tempting texture by day four in the fridge, so enjoy your fruit while it’s good.
How to Store Unripe Peaches
When they’re ready to eat, peaches will feel firm but not hard. (The flesh should give a little when gently pressed.) Still not sure if it’s time to dig in? Take a sniff: A ripe peach has a pleasant perfume you can smell before the first bite. However, if the fruit feels like a baseball and has no fragrance, you’ve got an unripe peach that will provide more pucker than pleasure. Once again, proper storage saves the day.
Unripe peaches will reach their full potential if stored at room temperature, but this can take anywhere from two to seven days depending on how far along the peaches are in the ripening process. If you don’t want to wait, try one of these tricks to speed things up.
- Use a brown paper bag. To get them blooming faster, put peaches in a paper bag and scrunch the top to loosely seal. Fruits naturally give off ethylene gas as they ripen and the process is accelerated when the chemical reaction occurs in an enclosed space. As a result, produce placed in a paper bag will ripen in half the time. Bonus: Apples and bananas release more of this magic gas than any other fruit, so add one to your bag of peaches and your farmers market haul might be ready to eat in as little as one day.
- Place the fruit between two napkins. If you don’t have a paper bag handy, a humble cloth napkin will produce the same effect. To get started, pull out two pieces of linen—any kind will do as long as they’re clean. Then, line your fruit bowl with one cloth (or lay it out on the counter) and arrange peaches on top, preferably in a single layer to prevent bruising. Drape the second cloth on top and fold it under the lower linen on all sides to form a well-sealed bundle. In one to two days, you should be able to sink your teeth into that sweet, summer goodness.
How to Freeze Peaches
So you got a little carried away and filled your shopping cart with enough peaches to feed future generations. (Hey, it happens.) Fortunately, the freezer will ensure that no fruit is left behind, no matter how big the haul. Simply wait until the peaches have reached the pinnacle of ripening—this will happen at a different rate for every piece of fruit, so check your stash regularly. When each peach is just right, it’s time to remove the skin. The best way to do this is by scoring the bottom of each peach with a paring knife and quickly dunking the fruit in a boiling water bath followed by an ice bath. This will loosen the peach skin, making easy to peel. Slice and freeze the meat in an airtight bag or container. Frozen peaches stay fresh for months, allowing you to enjoy their fresh flavor even after peak season. Thaw peach slices for use in smoothies, baked goods, jams and more.