Peach Handling and Storage
In the United States, peaches peak during late June through July in the South, and July and August in the North. Following are some tips for handling and storing this delicious, juicy fruit:
When testing for ripeness, never squeeze or press hard on the peach. Peaches blemish and tear easily.
Place peaches at the top of your grocery bag and handle with care to avoid bruising.
Only purchase the amount of peaches that you can use within a few days since they are highly perishable. If needed, preserve them for long-term storage, such as freezing or canning.
Peaches should not be washed until just before you intend to use it. Washing will remove most of the fuzz of the peach.
Separate out peaches with large bruises or brown spots -- the rot will spread quickly to the other peaches is they are not removed.
Peaches can only become softer, they will not get sweeter or riper -- that stopped when the peach was picked from the tree. For the best flavor, a peach should be allowed to fully ripen on the tree.
Peaches are picked firm to allow for transporting to your local market or grocery store. To soften, place the peaches in a single layer in a paper bag. Fold the bag shut and place on the counter -- not in the refrigerator -- out of direct sunlight. A firm peach may take three to four days to soften. For faster softening, add an apple or banana to the bag; they give off ethylene gas, which speeds up the process. Check each peach daily.
Once the peach has reached the desired softness, store in a cool place or in the refrigerator to slow down the softening process. Once softened, the peach should be eaten within one week.
When storing at room temperature, make sure there is enough space between the peaches to allow the air to properly circulate around them. Fresh peaches can be stored at room temperature up to 3 to 4 days. Be sure to check them each day since they tend to rot quickly.
Refrigeration will extend the life of the peach for a day or two. The ideal temperature for storing fully ripened peaches is 33°F to 40°F (1°C to 4°C) and at high humidity such as in a vegetable drawer in your refrigerator.
For the best flavor, allow the peaches to come close to room temperature before eating (about 30 minutes).
To remove the stone, slice the peach lengthwise entirely around the pit down to the stone. Then, at the same time, twist each half in opposite directions -- this will release the peach from the stone.
Wash peaches carefully in cool soapy water, then rinse well before eating or using.
Blanching peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds then submerging them immediately in ice water to stop the heating process, will allow the skin to peel off very easy. Use a small paring knife, pull off the skins, starting at the stem end.
When using peaches in fruit salads or platters, sprinkle the cut peaches with lemon juice or dip in a solution of 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1/2 gallon water, to help them keep their great color.