The peaches, plums, pluots, nectarines, and apricots that will continue to make an appearance in this summer’s end require a little extra love and attention. Here are some tips for treating your stone fruit right.
Treat each piece of fruit as an individual, rather than waiting around for the group as a whole
Each piece of fruit will ripen at its own pace. So, rather than watching the batch as a whole, give each individual piece of fruit the attention that it needs when it is ready to be refrigerated, eaten, or frozen.
Keep the fruit dry
Moisture on the inside of the fruit, as in the juice, we love, but moisture on the outside can mean big problems for organic stone fruit. Keeping the fruit dry is important, since these organic fruits have not been sprayed with fungicide to prevent mold. Avoid washing your fruit until immediately before you are ready to use it, and keep it free from condensation. The changes in temperature as your produce box or box of fruit add ons moves from the truck to the drop site to your home can produce condensation on the surface of the fruit. When you unpack your box, wipe all the fruit dry before you set it out to ripen on the counter. Pay special attention to the stem end.
If you live in a home with a swamp cooler, be sure to keep fruit out of the direct flow of moist air.
Allow space for air circulation
When you get your box home, unpack the fruit, and leave it out in a single layer on a counter top in a cool area. Because ripe stone fruit is so delicate, stacking the fruit in a bowl can bruise the pieces on the bottom, and the lack of airflow will encourage the fruit to break down more quickly.
Ripen fruit at room temperature, then refrigerate
Stone fruit continues to ripen after it has been harvested, and will only need a few hours to day or two to fully ripen at room temperature at your house. It will continue to ripen in the fridge, but at a slower pace. Leave it out at room temperature until it has almost exactly reached the level of ripeness you like. You’ll know the fruit is ready by the fragrance and when it gives a little under a gentle squeeze. Though you may prefer some stone fruits, like white donut peaches, to be more firm when ready. When the fruit has ripened to your liking, place it in a single layer in the refrigerator. You can also seal the fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Include a kitchen towel or paper towel to absorb the moisture in the bag.
Eat or freeze within the week
The fruit should last about five days to a week in the fridge once it is ripe. You won’t be running out any time soon, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of fruit at your disposal, freeze it! Or can it, dehydrate it, or make jam.