I’ve gone on and on about the peaches this season. I’ve taken photos, made desserts, written over-the-top descriptions and came this close to composing haiku in their honour.
And yet, a reader and my sister had their Ontario peaches go bad before ripening. What gives? How can I rave about juicy, ripe, succulent peaches while their rock hard fruit moulders before their eyes? As with many things in life, the secret is timing.
The peaches in the large chain grocery stores are likely picked green. And green peaches will never develop to their full potential. The best peaches are tree-ripened and picked just as they are ready to be eaten.
Where do you get tree-ripened fruits? To be on the safe side, from the grower. I buy mine at the Farmers’ Market, but there are other trusted outlets. Many small green grocers and some roadside stands have excellent produce. I can’t make sweeping statement claiming they ALL provide stellar produce, but if in doubt talk to the seller and try a small amount. If they’re good, return. If not, don’t.
At market this morning I spoke with the Peach Lady (my name for her, I’m sure her parents chose something more mainstream). I told her about my sister’s peaches woes and here are her tips on buying and storing peaches.
- Buy ripe or nearly ripe peaches. If they’re very hard, they are likely picked green and won’t develop the right taste or texture.
- When you get home, inspect each piece of fruit. A split or bruise means the peach will go bad quickly and ruin any peach it touches. Eat or preserve these right away.
- Peaches can be stored touching other peaches, but they shouldn’t touch other types of fruit.
- While peaches can keep on the counter for a few days, buy only as many as you can eat (or preserve).
- To prolong freshness, you can store peaches in the crisper, but only for a few days. Just put them directly in the crisper. Don’t put them in a bag.
So, ready to buy peaches again? The Peach Lady promises more Blazing Stars next week and some White Ladies. Not sure the difference? Ask for a sample. You’ll be amazed at the difference between varieties.
Got a favourite peach or some tips?