And just like that, it’s peach season. That’s a big deal where I live in northern Colorado in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. We love peaches and enjoy Peach Street Fairs and Palisade Peach Festivals; peach fruit piled high in every store’s produce department and featured on nearly every restaurant’s menu. While they’re in season, fresh peaches are relatively cheap, too.
Freestone or cling?
While there are many varieties of peaches, basically, there are two types: If a peach is freestone, it means the stone falls right off of the flesh when it’s cut. A clingstone or cling peach’s flesh will stick to the pit.
Freestones are larger, juicier, sweeter, and more comfortable to work with since the pit pops right out of a ripe peach. Many store-bought yellow and white peaches fall into this category. The most famous freestone peaches are Georgia and Palisade peaches
Clingstone peaches—peaches that are harder to pit because the pit firmly adheres to the flesh—are mostly used for canning.
Fresh peaches are abundantly available throughout North America, starting in late July through September.
Is it ripe?
Peaches are “climacteric fruit.” That means that peaches will ripen (get softer and sweeter) after they are harvested. Other fruits, for example, grapes, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries, are non-climacteric fruit; once harvested, they never ripen further.
The only way to know for sure if a peach is fully matured is by delicately feeling it to test for ripeness. Very gently, hold a peach between your thumb and middle finger and press very lightly at the stem end of the peach. Be careful not to squeeze the peach as it will bruise easily. One delicate squeeze is all that is needed. If the fruit indents slightly, the peach is fully ripe and ready to eat!
Speed things up
If you want to speed things up with a peach that’s not quite perfectly ripe, pop it in a paper bag and close it. The bag will capture the ethylene gas the fruit gives off, which hastens the ripening process. Want to speed things up even more and ripen peaches even faster? Add a banana to the bag for even more ethylene action.
Good for you
Peaches are an excellent source of vitamin A and dietary fiber, according to the popular website Healthline. Peaches are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Peaches may even lower risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
How to store
- On the kitchen counter unripe: 1 to 3 days or until ripe
- In the refrigerator once ripe: 3 to 5 days
- In the freezer or canned: Up to 1 year
Peel a peach
While a bit more tedious than the hot water method (coming in a sec), you can peel a ripe peach with a peeler that is designed to handle soft-skin fruit.
Set a big pot of water on the stove over high heat. While you’re waiting for it to come to a boil, fill the sink or large bowl with ice water, so it’s ready to go.
With a sharp knife, cut an X in the bottom of each peach. Drop the peaches into the boiling water and count to 30. That’s it, just 30 seconds. Carefully remove them from the boiling water and immediately drop them into the ice water. Watch what happens. The skins will split open and nearly fall off all by themselves. It’s quite fun to watch and oh, what a time saver.
How to pit a peach
Removing the peach pit (seed) is a no-brainer, especially if you have a freestone variety peach. Using a paring knife, pierce the peach where the stem was attached, slicing it along the seam all the way around the fruit. Your knife will naturally hit the pit and it will become your guide for stabilizing the cut.
Place each half of the peach in either hand. Twist the halves in opposite directions. Pull the halves apart to reveal the pit. Pull the pit away from the flesh with your fingers.
Peaches take to the grill like fish to water. Dip a peeled and pitted fresh peach half into brown sugar and set it on the grill, cut side down. Allow it to remain there long enough to show grill marks. That’s it!
The quick cooking over live flames brings out peaches’ natural juiciness and intensifies their deep summer sweetness—perfect for an arugula salad or served with ice cream for dessert.
It’s hard to hate, that’s for sure! Served warm with a dollop of ice cream, homemade peach cobbler is such a great comfort food.
My grandmother, Mamie Schwartz, the most beautiful and humble woman I have ever known, could have taught even Martha Stewart a thing or two, including how to make the peach cobbler. Recipe below.
Peach freezer jam
Any kind of freezer jam is fabulous, but when it’s peach jam? Be still my heart! It’s that good.
Basically, start with fresh peaches, add sugar, a touch of lemon juice, and pectin. Load it into jars or containers of your choice and … freeze it! No canning, or water-bath processing required. Results are amazing. Recipe below.
My Grandmother's Peach Cobbler
- 8 med fresh peaches (or 6 large), peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, divided firmly packed
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt (NOTE 2)
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Peel, pit, and slice the fresh peaches into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; the nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss gently until the peaches are evenly coated. Pour into an 8 x 8 greased baking dish.
- Bake in 425 F oven for 10 minutes.
- While the peaches are baking, in a large bowl combine the flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the cold butter with your fingers, a pastry blender, or a fork and continue until mixture looks like coarse meal. Stir in the cup of boiling water until just combined.
- Remove the peaches from the oven. Pour or spoon the batter over the top.
- Mix together 3 tablespoons white sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the entire cobbler.
- Return to the 425 F oven and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown on top and the peaches are bubbling.
Peach Freezer Jam
- 3 cups fresh, fully ripe peaches about 2 lbs
- 1 ¼ cups granulated white sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 (1.75 oz) box Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin
- Peel, pit and coarsely chop the peaches
- Place the peaches in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you reach a chunky puree. (Don't have a food processor? Use a potato masher to mash them up in a large bowl.) You need exactly 3 cups of puree.
- Pour the puree into in a large bowl. Add the sugar, gradually, stirring until dissolved.
- Stir in the lemon juice. Allow sitting until the sugar is no longer grainy, fully dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, add the pectin and water to a small saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute, while stirring. Remove from heat.
- Add pectin mixture to peaches. Stir for about 3 mins. The mixture will thicken slightly.
- Spoon the jam into clean jars or other containers, with tight-fitting lids, making sure you leave about 1/2-inch of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion in the freezer.
- Allow the jars to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or longer to set. Store the jam in the refrigerator or the freezer. The jam will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks and in the freezer for up to a year.
Blushing Peach Jam
- 2 cups peaches peeled, pitted, and crushed
- 2 cups red raspberries crushed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 7 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 6-oz. liquid fruit pectin
- few drops almond extract
- Sterilze jars and lids in boiling water or dishwasher on hottest "sterlize" setting.
- In the meantime, to the peaches add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Let stand while preparing raspberries.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the raspberries.
- Combine peaches and raspberries with sugar in a heavy saucepan. Mix well and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and add pectin. Stir and skim; add a few drops of almond extract.
- Pour into hot jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
- Process in boiling bath for 10 minutes. Yield: 4 half-pint jars jam.
First published: 8-1-18; Updated 7-18-23
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