So you can eat them sooner!

By Katlyn Moncada
June 25, 2020
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Taking a trip to a peach orchard? Maybe you can't pass up those juicy fruits in the produce section once summer weather hits. No matter how you acquire your peaches, it's good to know just how to determine whether a peach is ripe enough to pick and when the fruit is at its prime. But if you happen to get some peaches that aren't quite ripe enough to make the peach cobbler you're anxiously waiting to bake, there are some tricks to ripen up those peaches to get the most of your haul when you need them. You'll start seeing peaches in abundance once peach season starts in late June through August. Use these tips and you'll be on your way to making delicious fresh peach recipes.

How to Ripen Peaches

Unlike apples or strawberries that are ripe and ready to eat upon picking (or buying), fruits such as peaches and nectarines continue to ripen off the tree. According to PickYourOwn.org, varieties ripened on the tree will taste better than anything from the grocery store, but if your peaches aren’t quite ripe, the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen has an easy tip on how to ripen peaches indoors. All you have to do is place them in a brown paper bag ($2, Target) on the counter at room temperature (and away from direct sunlight) for a day or two. Be sure to check the peaches after 24 hours and then add time as needed since they can go from perfectly ripe to overripe quickly. No paper bags on hand? Placing them between two kitchen towels for the same amount of time can also work.

How to Ripen Peaches Quickly

Unfortunately, patience is key when ripening peaches. The brown bag trick is the easiest way to get them just right, so you'll want to plan for at least a day or so before you can get to baking. However, you can also try adding a banana in the bag with your peaches to try to speed up your wait time. Bananas produce ethylene gas, which has a powerful effect on the ripening process.

How to Tell if a Peach Is Ripe

According to Parlee Farms, a produce and flower farm in Massachusetts, there are a few key signs that a peach is ripe and ready to eat.

  1. Touch it: Gently squeeze your peach. If there is a slight give, it's ready. Just don't squeeze too hard or it will end up bruising the delicate fruit, which will cause the peach to rot faster.
  2. Give it a Sniff: The aroma of a ripe peach should be sweet. If you can't smell anything, it's a sign you need to give it more time.
  3. Check the Color: A ripe peach should have a deep yellow color. If there are any green spots, it's edible, but definitely won't be as sweet and juicy.
  4. Take Note of the Shape: The shape of a peach important, too. As it ripens, the peach should be round. You'll want to store them on their sides rather than the bottom.

How to Tell if a Peach Is Ready to Be Picked

Mark Wieser, co-owner of Das Peach Haus in Fredericksburg, Texas, has spent a lifetime working and eating the harvest from his peach farm. Fredericksburg peaches are famous for their flavor, due to the climate and soil of Texas Hill Country. According to Wieser, here are the two key steps to picking the perfect peach.

  1. Look for the Blush: Ripe peaches have a yellow glow tinted with a rosy hue. Look for them in markets during their peak: June and July.
  2. Don't Squeeze: “On the farm, we like to say it hurts their peelings,” says Wieser. Soft peaches don’t guarantee ripeness. They only ripen (and therefore sweeten) on the tree. 

How to Store Ripe Peaches

Keep your ripe peaches at room temperature up to four days. Wieser says a paper bag isn’t necessary if they're already ripe, plus the peaches look pretty sitting on the counter. Since they tend to get overripe fairly quickly, you could put them in the refrigerator to keep them from continuing to ripen. But you'll want to use them out of the fridge within a week before they dry out or develop a mealy texture. Allow them to sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before enjoying or prepping for your recipe. If you won't be able to utilize your peach haul before they go bad, use our tips for freezing peaches or canning them.

Juicy peaches can be a delicious addition to more than just your dessert course. Whip up some ginger-peach margaritas to enjoy on the patio. Grill them to add a smoky-sweet bite to your summer salad or pork tacos. Pair them up with herbs (basil, mint, and rosemary, to name a few) or combine them with berries in a fruit crisp. Really, the possibilities are endless.

This Story Originally Appeared On bhg