Peaches: How to Pick the Perfect One
Originally published in August 2015; updated July 2021.
It’s peach season! Every year, I anxiously await the arrival of our organically grown peaches. I love the juicy sweetness of a fresh peach, and enjoying a grilled peach over vanilla ice cream is by far my favorite summertime dessert. Because our Artisan Organics™ peaches are only available a short time each year, it’s very important to me that I pick out the perfect-tasting peach every time. To help you do the same, I’m sharing 5 tips to help you pick the perfect peach (or nectarine) out at your local store in this post.
How to Pick the Perfect Peach:
1. Look for firm peaches with a pleasant aroma.
Though you’ll probably want to enjoy your peach once it has softened slightly, firmness is a good indicator of a freshly picked peach. When picking peaches out of the bulk display at the store, search for firm fruits that are free of bruises. A bruise will typically show up as a brown spot on a peach. Avoid peaches with excessive shriveled skin as that is a sign of dehydration and may lead to an unpleasant texture. You can also give your peach a little sniff at the store to make sure it has a pleasant, peach-like aroma. The best peaches not only look good, but smell good too!
2. Pick full-colored peaches.
For certain fruits (like apples), color isn’t always the best indicator of ripeness or quality. However, for a peach, color matters! In eastern Washington where we are lucky enough to grow peaches, we have warm days followed by cool nights. The temperature swing between day and night is vital in building the vibrant hues found in peaches. A great peach will have a vibrant yellow or orange background color that is partially or fully covered by a deep red blush. Use the color of the fruit to help you choose the perfect peach.
3. Bigger can be better when it comes to peaches!
The best peaches are big peaches! Size makes a difference when it comes to sugar levels and flavors in peaches. Look for medium to large-sized peaches to take home whenever possible. Size isn’t everything (you still want a firm, bruise-free, and full-colored peach) but it certainly matters.
4. Choose tree-ripened fruits.
Keep an eye out at your store for signage that indicates a peach has been tree-ripened. A peach that is picked too “green” will never sweeten up enough to be palatable and so it’s important that peaches spend as much time on the tree as possible to develop sugars and flavor. At Stemilt, we work hard to make sure our organic peaches are tree-ripened before we pick them from the tree.
5. Look for Stemilt’s Artisan Organics™ peaches!
We are quite proud of the peaches we grow, and would love for you to experience the great flavors of our organic peaches! The Douglas family grows the majority of our peach (and nectarine) crop, and for the past seven years, their entire crop has been certified organic. The Douglases and Stemilt transitioned their entire crop of peaches and nectarines to organic production back in 2007, believing that natural farming practices would combine well with the arid growing climate in Washington State to produce summer fruits with vibrant colors and complex flavors. Flavor-first has and continues to be our mission when it comes to our organic peaches and nectarines.
Look for our peaches and nectarines in stores in July, August, and September. You’ll know it’s us because every peach and nectarine are labeled with Stemilt’s Artisan Organics™ label.
Now it’s your turn to share. What fruit season is your favorite season? Do you have any tips for picking out the perfect peach or nectarine? Share with us in the comments below.
Lastly, we’ve brought back our popular Peach How-To Guide for a limited time. Download your free copy now to get ideas and instructions for canning peaches, grilling peaches, and making the perfect peach cobbler recipe. Enjoy!