Picking Summer Fresh Peaches
Posted: August 20, 2012
One of my fondest memories growing up was going to my aunt’s house in Chambersburg. On the way, we always stopped and purchased fresh peaches. For the week, we had peach pie, peach cobbler, peaches on ice cream, but we never got tired of fresh peaches. To top it off, my mother home canned peaches, and we were able to enjoy them throughout the winter. It truly was a treat when the snow was blowing outside!
If you have discovered “love at first bite” with local peaches, Alice Henneman, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, suggests the following guidelines to care for the perfect peach.
• Avoid buying green, brownish, or wrinkled peaches, or peaches that are very soft, or with large bruises or signs of decay. Hard, green peaches will never ripen properly.
• Handle peaches gently to prevent bruising.
• Determine if a peach is ripe by checking if it is firm, but yields to gentle pressure, and has a strong, sweet smell. A reddish “bloom” on the peach isn’t a sure sign the peach is ripe. Look for a deep yellow or creamy white under color.
• Store peaches in a single layer at room temperature, out of sunlight.
• Ripen peaches by putting them in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature. Check daily. They should ripen in one to three days. Do NOT use plastic bags to ripen peaches.
• Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator up to one week in a perforated plastic bag to prevent water from condensing on the inside of the bag and causing storage rot. Make holes using a standard paper punch or a sharp object such as a pen, pencil, or knife. Punch holes approximately every 6 inches through both sides of the bag. If using a knife to create the openings, make two cuts – in an “X” shape – for each hole to ensure good air circulation.
• Wash peaches just before eating or cutting them. Washing peaches before storing may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage. Wash peaches under running water, rubbing the peach gently with your hands. Do not use detergent, as this may affect taste and safety.
• Quickly skin several peaches by dipping a few peaches at a time in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Plunge into cold water and slip off the skins. Use immediately or toss with citrus juice, or use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture, such as Fruit-Fresh ® Produce Protector. Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator and use that day.