Selecting the Perfect Peach

August is National Peach month! July and August are the peak season for this delicious, juicy fruit. Peaches and nectarines are members of the stone family (fruits with a single stone-type pit). The only difference between a peach and nectarine is that a peach has a fuzzy skin. Peaches are one of the easiest fruits to choose the best. Just follow these three tips and you will enjoy the tastiest, ripe peaches:

Select peaches that are soft to the touch.

Make sure the peach has a firm skin but yields slightly to a gentle press. A peach bruises easily so never squeeze or press hard. Avoid any peach that has been over-handled or bruised.

Select peaches that are not green in color.

The back side of the peach, or what is referred to as "ground color" should be creamy yellow or golden yellow in color. A peach stops ripening once it has been picked, so avoid those with a green ground color or greenish skin around the stem. The red blush of the peach doesn't indicate that it is ripe, it is just a characteristic of the peach.

Select peaches that have a sweet, fragrant aroma.

Smell the peach. A fresh peachy fragrance indicates ripeness.

Most peaches require additional softening after purchase.

Peaches are picked firm to allow for transporting to your local market or grocery store. To soften, place the peaches in a single layer in a paper bag. Fold the bag shut and place on the counter -- not in the refrigerator -- out of direct sunlight. A firm peach may take three to four days to soften. For faster softening, add an apple or banana to the bag; they give off ethylene gas, which speeds up the process. Check each peach daily.

Once the peach has reached the desired softness, store in a cool place or in the refrigerator to slow down the softening process. Once softened, the peach should be eaten within one week.

Just remember these basics: A tasty ripe peach is soft to the touch, blemish free, has a sweet, fragrant aroma and is never green.

Related Links:

Peach Handling and Storage

Peach Measures, Equivalents and Substitutions

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