Peaches are either free stone, and cling stone. The flesh of freestone peaches separates easily from the peach seed, or stone. The flesh of clingstone peaches holds on tighter, making them a little messier to eat; clingstone peaches can get caught in your teeth. Semi-freestone varieties are also available, and are hybrid varieties.
Of these basic types, you have white flesh, yellow flesh, and flat donut peaches.
Eat fresh, or use in baked goods, drinks, or smoothies. Peaches can also be featured at dinner by poaching or grilling.
Peaches that aren’t quite ripe yet are great candidates for the pot or pan. Cooking not-quite-ripe fruit softens it and brings out its sweet and still slightly sour flavors. Jams, breads, cobblers, pancakes, salad dressings, and sauces are great solutions for fruit that is over-ripe.
Aroma is a good indicator of ripeness.
Leave them out on the counter for a day until they’re smelling great and yield slightly to pressure when squeezed, then transfer to the fridge.
Refrigeration in a plastic bag can extend the life of ripe peaches for a few days, but plan on using them all within a week, or preserving them for later by canning, or slicing and freezing in plastic bags.
To pit a freestone peach, cut down to the stone along the seam of the peach, all the way around, then twist as you would an avocado. Clingstone peaches must be pitted by cutting the flesh away from the seed.
To peel many peaches at one time, fill a pot with enough water to fully submerge the peaches. Score a small “x” on the bottom of each fruit. Using a slotted spoon, blanch the peach in the boiling water for about thirty seconds, then scoop it out and immediately place it in an ice bath, where it can be fully submerged. This should loosen the skin so that you will be able to gently rub it away with your hands. If the skin of the peach does not come off easily, repeat the process.
We have both free stone and cling stone varieties of yellow and white flesh peaches, as well as donut peaches, in our Abundant Harvest Organics produce boxes each summer.