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Picky Peach Picking

August 5, 2014

File this under things that I shouldn’t share.

It’s hard to find a good peach. It’s much easier to find a hard peach. Hard underripe peaches unfortunately represent the bulk of the peach selection in most major markets, even during the peak of the summer season.

But there are usually good ones to be found buried in the bin, if you know how to pick them. It’s not hard. It just takes patience and persistence. That, and you have to remember to look for this one critical thing.

Part of me doesn’t want to tell you. I mean, there are only so many good peaches to go around. But if the mission of this blog is to help expose people to delicious food, I suppose I must. Just try to save me one or two, and please don’t stick your thumbnail into the flesh and ruin these precious fruits for those who come after you.

Here’s all you have to do, look deep into the stem of each peach.

Most likely you’ll see a telltale glint of green. That means the peach was picked from the tree before it was ripe. Put that peach back and pick up another. Most likely you’ll see the same glint of green. But the patient and persistent are rewarded. Eventually you’ll find a few peaches that are a creamy shade of yellow all the way down to the stem. These are the peaches that you want.

Ideally, they will yield to a bit of soft pressure. But a peach can be softened up at home, especially if it’s kept in a brown paper bag. What you can’t do is get it to taste better. The secret to great tasting peaches is in the picking.

Once you have some good peaches, don’t refrigerate them. Don’t save them for some special occasion. Eat them out of hand. Let the nectar drip down your arm and chin. Enjoy the hell out of summer while it’s here.

Because I hate to say this, but yesterday evening I was watching yellow leaves being blown off one of the trees on the farm. Summer is fleeting. Peaches are fleeting. Tomatoes are fleeting. And all of these cycles of the seasons are a good reminder that life is fleeting too.

Drink to to the lees. Life is too short for eating bad peaches.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin T permalink
    August 5, 2014 12:31 pm

    Yesterday, as I carefully picked peaches from the bin at Honest Weight, I reflected how peaches and avocados can be so very, very good and so very, very bad. Similar issues with both fruits.

  2. August 5, 2014 1:36 pm

    The scent can be another sign. When it smells like a beautifully ripe peach and gives in to just the slightest pressure, it’s likely to be at least juicy and probably flavorful. Over the weekend I think I was a little early at The Berry Farm in Chatham, but those are ripening on my table. Golden Harvest, up the road in Valatie, has lots and lots of perfectly ripe, juicy ones. I’m trying to limit myself to two a day. I might have to make some peach butter at the end of the week! To anyone who is holding back: get thyself out there and enjoy – there’s nothing more discouraging than a peach that looks good, but has bad texture and no flavor because the season has passed.

    And thank you, Profussor, for reminding people not to dig in to the peach. Only the slightest pressure is needed to feel the firmness or softness of the flesh. Honestly – running your fingertip very gently over the skin will tell you, or gently cradling the peach in your palm. Please don’t ruin a peach that may be perfect tomorrow!

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