If you shop for fresh peaches at a farmer’s market or even in the produce section of a grocery store, then my guess is that you are probably like me; that is "me" before I started working at Frog Hollow Farm. I would carefully inspect each individual piece of fruit and select those I believed were the sweetest and most ready-to-eat from the rest, only to go home and find out how off the mark I was!
If you get organic fruits delivered direct to your home/office from Frog Hollow Farm, then you’ve already solved 80% of the problem because we only ship the best tree-ripened fruits, anyway. But if you are just a peach-lover who wants to experience a sweet ripe peach with juice running down your chin, then you may find some of the following tips from Frog Hollow Farm owner/farmer Al Courchesne helpful!
There are three main characteristics that would help you identify a sweet, juicy, ready-to-eat peach:
1. Color: This is important because you ought to know what you’re looking for! According to Farmer Al, “the real color you want to look for is the background color of the fruit and not the red, highlight.” The red color is deceptive because our brain is genetically evolved to think that the color red is delicious and sweet. He says, “Plant breeders have bred the color red into a lot of peaches grown around the world nowadays because it helps sell the fruit.” The real color you want to look for is yellow and it should be deep golden, not pale.
2. Touch: You can tell if a peach is ripe or not by a gentle, yet firm squeeze (not hard enough to bruise it) with your fingers. If there’s a little bit of a give there, then it means that the fruit is almost ripe but not quite. I would still leave such a peach on the kitchen counter for another 2-3 days till it is actually soft to very soft.
3. Appearance/Texture of Skin: This is the most telling of all three characteristics. You can tell that a peach is ready to eat by looking for signs of shriveled skin around the stem. When you see wrinkles, that's the sign of a really excellent peach. I had asked Farmer Al what the shriveling means and he explained that wrinkles develop on the skin when water starts to leave the fruit. “Water evaporates from fruit once it has been picked because the skin is very porous. It will shrivel and dry up and that will intensify the flavors and give you the best peach flavor," he explained.
So go on and try these steps the next time you buy peaches and drop in a line to let me know if they worked for you. If you have other suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment.
Author: Pearl Driver
Photo Credit: Lucia Lee (on Instagram as @foodminimalist)