A Ripe Peach Is Worth the Wait
I love peaches too much to eat them as the rock hard flavorless orbs we’ve come to expect from the local grocer. It’s worth every penny to buy from local growers or grow peaches yourself as it seems impossible to ship perfectly ripe peaches. Heck, I can’t take a bag full of my peaches to a neighbor across the street without having jam upon arrival.
After years of trying many techniques, I believe I’ve found the best way to ripen a peach if picked too early or trucked in from another local and picked firm. It’s simple and it works.
A Brown Paper Bag Is Not the Answer
Grocery stores will say to ripen peaches in paper bags, but I’ve never been satisfied with the results and peaches end up rotting or becoming mealy crowded together, victims of stale and moisture-rententive air. It’s the kitchen equivalent of being locked in a school bus on a steamy hot summer day.
How to Ripen a Peach to Juicy Perfection
Step 1: First of all, never squeeze a peach as you basically ruin it. The bruised tissue just rots and consumes the peach in a matter of hours. It took a full year to grow that peach, show a little respect. Select unbruised peaches with nice color, full shape and nice weight for the size.
Beauty and the beastly (if not grubby) garden hand
Step 2: Place the peach or nectarine stem side down on a linen napkin or cotton tea towel as these fabrics breathe. Forget terry cloth as it holds moisture and tends to encourage mold. (You are free to roll your eyes, but I tell you this works.)
Step 3: Make sure the fruit doesn’t touch and is kept in a cool place out of the sun.
Let your treasure rest and ripen.
Step 5: They are ripe when they smell like a peach and the stem side is pressed down a bit from the weight and softening of the peach as it ripens. The resulting peach: perfumed, juicy, soft, delectable.
If you have too many that ripen at once, you can refrigerate them to stop the ripening, but that’s only if you can’t five to six peaches a day.
The juicy white peach above was slightly unripe and hard when picked. Four days later after “resting’ sandwiched between two linen napkins, it was a juice bomb of sugar. I picked them early to beat out marauding raccoon that had discovered the tree.
Updated August 2013: Here’s a video I did describing the best way to ripen peaches.