It’s no secret I love peaches–their rich flavor, succulent juice and heady perfume. I’m even starstruck (and foolish) enough to try to grow them in the maritime Pacific Northwest. This year my eleven Peach Leaf Curl Resistant trees remain basically fruitless. I have a very wet spring and bees that prefer pollinating native Oregon grape, cottonwood, and wild cherry to thank.
So when I spend a big chunk of change buying peaches, only to have them morph into moldy spheres of mush days later, I become a very grumpy man who wants to stand by every produce case in America and lecture the clueless folks who squeeze them relentlessly before moving on to molest the nectarines and avocados. Squeezing peaches tells you nothing. It ruins the fruit and demeans a full year of hard work by the men and women who bust their keesters to grow and harvest some of nature’s finest fruit. Simply put, don’t do it.
Tough talk about firm fruit: Don’t press the peaches!
- Peaches will be firm at market 9 times out of 10
- Even a ripe peach can still be firm
- Instead select heavy peaches of rich color
- Peaches cannot be shipped totally ripe or they would be very bruised upon delivery
- A peach will ripen nicely off of the tree.
- Allow time for the fruit to ripen; you can’t rush it.
- Use your nose to determine ripeness, not your thumb.
The following link is a popular post of mine that shares the steps to ripening an unripe (and very firm) peach at home and it has nothing to do with a brown paper bag.
Indian Free peaches from my trees: I pick them firm (in early October) and ripen them off the tree to beat fall rains, ravenous raccoons and squirrel gangs. It takes about a week, but the methods in the link above are simple and well worth it. Good luck! Now treat your peaches like slow food and you’ll be reward justly. And you better not let me catch you pressing your thumbs into peaches at the local Thriftway or I may have to return the favor (on behalf of bruised and rotting peaches everywhere).