Peaches are now in season and we couldn’t be happier! Do you know how to pick the perfect peach? Chef J has some great tips to help you out.
Do you know the teaches of peaches? Peaches are second only to apples in the U.S. We love ‘em and we grow a lot of ‘em. This rockin’ rock fruit grows all over the country, and the world, but they do best in warm climates. The sweltering summer months (which I have complained about extensively) are the perfect time for peach picking. So far, my tree has produced three. It’s still young, but I’m impatient, so I must go forth into the world to purchase my perfect peaches. Lucky for me, Arizona grows some of the most delicious golden globes! This means I can get my goodies closer to where they came from — so they can stay on the tree longer and travel less distance.
Peaches will continue to ripen after they have been picked, but the sugar only develops while they are attached — so the longer they can hang around in the sunshine, the sweeter they will be.
When you are searching for that perfect peach to take home, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Keep an eye out for dark bruises, blemishes, or holes. You want lots of yellow, red, orange, and pink when perusing peach pigments — stay away from shades of green! Try to pick fruits with a well-defined cleft; you know, the peach “butt” — this indicates the fruit had a good life on the branch.
Ideally, you want a peach that is firm but yielding. Like many things in life, a good peach will be supple but grow soft and mushy over time. It will continue to ripen and get softer, so a peach that is a little on the hard side might be good if you are not going to use it for a couple of days, while a softer one will probably be a bit sweeter and would work well in a cobbler. A firmer peach is great for grilling — burning the peach just a bit gives it a nice smoky, caramelized flavor that goes well with vanilla ice cream, pork chops, and bourbon!
The smell of a ripe peach is intoxicating. It may be harder to find that sensual summer scent in the supermarket, but you should follow your nose to the most fragrant fruit available. A peach with no aroma is a peach with no flavor, and that’s really no peach at all!
Just kidding, peaches don’t talk. I don’t care what the banana says. Once you have your peaches you can do whatever you want; it doesn’t matter to me. They’re your peaches. But I like to keep them out on the counter where they can get some air. Keeping them locked up in a bag will cause them to soften rather quickly — so do that if they are too hard. If you find that you have more peaches than you can deal with, cut them up and freeze them. You can add some citrus juice to keep them from browning, but they will be fine for a couple months as long as they are in an airtight container. I load up at the end of the season, chop them up, and pack them into 2 cup portions in zipper bags. Then it’s quick and easy to thaw them out into the fall and winter when I’m feeling peachy.