Last week I had my first fully ripe white flesh Georgia peach of the season and it was sublime.  It is a short season, so run to your nearest local orchard or farm stand and gobble them up.

Peach facts:

  • The top four peach-producing states are California, South Carolina, Georgia and New Jersey.
  • There are two types of peaches – clingstone and freestone.  In clingstone peaches, the flesh of the peach clings to the pit.  In freestone peaches, the pit and the peach flesh separate easily.
  • Fresh peaches are available in supermarkets, orchards and fruit stands from June thru September.
  • The peach is a member of the rose family, and there are over 700 varieties.
  • A large peach has less than 70 calories, 3 grams of fiber and vitamins A and C.
  • A mealy peach is one that was picked while still green, or one that was allowed to ripen but then chilled and brought to room temperature.  Don’t buy from that vendor again!
  • Peaches are able to fully ripen after they have been picked, but not if they are too green when picked.

There is nothing more disappointing than biting into what appears to be a ripe, juicy peach, and getting a mealy peach instead.

How to buy a good peach:

  • The peach flesh should have a slight give but not be too hard or too mushy.
  • The peach should have a well-defined crease and even color – golden yellow for yellow peaches and creamy yellow for white flesh peaches.
  • Don’t buy a peach that has any green around the stem – it’s not fully ripe.
  • Don’t buy a peach with any shriveled skin – it’s too old.
  • The peach should smell peachy!

Sometimes you don’t want your peaches to ripen at the same time.  Buy some peaches that are ripe, but also buy peaches that still need to ripen.

How to ripen a peach at home:

  • Leave the peach out on your counter but handle gently and don’t stack too many on top of one another or they’ll bruise. It will be fine for three days.
  • Leave the peach in some direct sunlight, but don’t let it get too hot.
  • If you need the peach to ripen quickly, put it in a brown paper bag.  To really speed up ripening, add a banana to the bag.
  • Should you overshoot with the ripening thing, overripe peaches can be put in the fridge.  This will also stave off those pesky fruit flies.

Peaches are wonderful to cook with.  They can be grilled, pureed and added to champagne (a Bellini), poached, baked, used in salads, made into jams and pies, and peach ice cream is  yummy!

Here is a link to 61 delicious peach recipes.  www.southernliving.com