My love/hate relationship with peaches (and other fruits of their ilk).

I’m beginning to think it’s time to get a category beyond “other” for non-recipe posts. We’ll see.


So, I didn’t go to the farmers’ market on Saturday (or Sunday). I’m not going today, and the one I go to tomorrow is fairly small, and the one farm which sold peaches has been out for a week or two already. I could, conceivably, get to another market tomorrow where my favorite peach seller sells, but it’s highly unlikely. So, from the sounds of it, I am done buying peaches for the season. This should save me some money (except that pears and apples are hitting the farm stands).

Here’s my problem. I love peaches, but they don’t love me back. Not that they make me sick, because they don’t. But they don’t reveal their secrets to me.

Peaches are my favorite fruit, but I seem to be incapable of determining when they are actually truly ripe. This occasionally, but rarely, troubles me when I’m eating them (usually they’re ripe enough for devouring like a fruit-maddened toucan). However, it NEVER FAILS to give me trouble when I’m trying to process them for any purpose.

Rumor has it that peaches are super easy to peel. This is basically true when they’re ripe (but not actually as true as everyone claims – don’t let them lie to you).

The technique is super easy, definitely. Cut a small, shallow “X” on the bottom of the peaches, then boil for 30 seconds and plunge into ice cold water. The “cooking” helps separate the fuzzy skin from the flesh, the ice plunge stops the cooking and cools them enough to handle. Then you can (in theory) just grab a piece of the “X” that should be flapping around and peel downward, loosening the peach from the skin’s fuzzy clutches.

When peaches are ripe, it MOSTLY turns out this way. There’s occasional sticking of the skin, and sometimes the skin comes so loose that little tendrils start slipping off. Bad news, because that makes the peach slicker and yet the skin, overall, harder to get a grip on. Still, it’s fairly easy.

When the peaches are underripe, the skin clings and clings. Nothing’s making it budge. Unfortunately for me, this clinging is the first clue I usually get that the seemingly ripe & pliable peach I squeezed earlier is a lying jerk and now I’ve ruined it’s chances at a good ripe home in my belly (either straight or via jam, compote, other deliciousness). These peaches still tend to have some peach flavor, but it’s muted. If I’ve picked really wrong, the peach will actually be more than a little crunchy inside. This is pure sadness.

And, in all of that, my Grandmother L. is vaguely panged at me, and (potentially) my Great-Grandmother H. (her mother) is tossing and turning in her grave (it’s not really “spin” worthy, I’m sure).

On top of all of this peeling nonsense, I learned from my Grandmother L. recently that if my “freestone” peaches seem a little “clingstoney”, they probably weren’t ripe enough. Most of my freestones have been this way, which is sad. More sad? It makes the pits hard to clean for use in a later recipe from “_Imbibe Magazine._”: Alas.

Ripening peaches also gives me fits. If you put peaches in a rolled up paper bag, they’ll ripen faster. But sometimes they’ll mold super fast. Other fruits in the bag with the peach so ripe it’s moldy? Crunchy and way underripe.

Leave ’em out on the counter or in a bowl? Parts will ripen while other parts don’t. No, not parts of the bowl. Parts of each, individual damn peach. And bruising happens.

Put ’em in the fridge to delay ripening (as my great purveyor of berries and peaches advised me to do the first time I bought peaches from him)? Bruising, and possibly managing to rot without going through ripening.

Anyway, I imagine I will get better with practice. But I’ve had over 25 years on this planet and still cannot pick a perfectly ripe peach from the market. And now peach season is over, so practice season is also over. On the other hand, it means “feeling inadequate over your favorite fruit” season is also over. And I did learn a lot from Grandma L. this year, and my freezer is bulging with peach slices. So, really, it can’t be all bad.

Maybe I just need my own peach tree or three…