5 Tips for Picking, Storing, and Enjoying Fresh Peaches
Some would argue that until you’ve bitten into a freshly picked, peak-summer Georgia peach, you don’t really know what a peach tastes like. Being a Georgia native myself, I’m inclined to agree. Sure, peaches are grown in other places and they’re totally fine… but look, I’ve eaten a lot of peaches in my life, and there’s a legitimate reason that Georgia is “the peach state.” Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it.
Jessica and Stephen Rose, the Nashville-based couple behind The Peach Truck, are making sure that people across the country can know the joy of a perfectly ripe Georgia peach. With The Peach Truck’s “Sweet and Juicy Guarantee,” residents of any state—with the exception of California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska—can have boxes of 13 succulent, freshly plucked GA peaches shipped directly from the farm to their doorstep. And if you happen to live in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, or Florida, you can pick peaches up by the ½ bushel in person during the Truck’s annual peach season tour this summer.
WATCH: How to Make Peach Upside-Down Cake
Having built their business around this idea that the sweet bliss of Georgia’s crown jewel crop should be enjoyed near and far, the Roses know a thing or two about how to have the best peach experience possible. While much of this knowledge is contained in their upcoming cookbook, The Peach Truck Cookbook, the duo kindly shared a few of their top pointers for selecting and enjoying the beloved stone fruit with MyRecipes. Whether or not you’re working with the fine fruit of my home state, use the following tips to make this summer your sweetest peach season ever.
1. The perfect peach may not be the prettiest peach.
The Roses say that Georgia acquired its “peach state” title because of the Elberta peach, an oblong, yellowish-green peach. It’s not exactly a looker, but it’s incredibly flavorful. Similar to heirloom tomato varieties, some of the tastiest peaches may be rather quirky to look at, so if you spot a variety that’s unfamiliar to you at your local farmer’s market, ask the farmer about it.
2. Your nose is the best barometer for ripeness.
The best way to tell if a peach is good and fresh is by smelling it. According to the Roses, being able to smell the sweetness of a peach is a good sign. Because a peach is prone to absorbing the odors of its environment, if you pick a peach up at the supermarket and it smells like a refrigerator, you might want to skip it. Chances are, it’s been sitting in the back of the grocery store fridge for too long.
3. Go for underripe if you’re not using them right away.
If you’re out shopping for peaches and you’re not planning to go home and throw together a peach crisp, select peaches that are on the firmer side and keep them on the counter as you would an avocado or tomato. The Roses say that you should never put a firm peach in the refrigerator as this will halt the conditioning process. Once your peaches have reached the desired level of ripe softness at room temperature, you can then transfer them to the fridge and they should last about one week.
4. Bag ‘em up to expedite ripening.
Just like avocados and tomatoes, if it’s ready-to-eat peaches you want, place the firm peaches in a brown paper bag and put the bag outside. This will speed up the ripening process.
5. A little firmness is fine for baking.
If you're aching for peach pie before your peaches are in their prime, don't worry. Whether it’s a peach pound cake or cobbler, when you’re baking with peaches, it’s A-OK if they’re still a bit firm, the Roses say. They will soften and sweeten in the oven.
If you’re ready to get your peach on, you’ll probably want to take a look at this collection of our best peach recipes, which includes everything from fan-faves like peach cobbler to stunning peach salads. And for even more pro-tips and peach-centric summer recipes, check out The Peach Truck Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes for All Things Peach, available for preorder now and hitting shelves June 25, 2019.