Sales of peaches rose nearly 50 percent after the peach industry devised a machine to brush the fuzz from the fruit’s outer surface. Peaches are divided into two categories: clingtone and freestone. The flesh of a clingstone clutches stubbornly to the pit while the freestone separates easily from the central stone. Clingstone’s drier, firmer pulp is preferred by commercial growers for canning and preserves. They are also the first available peach of the season (May-June), so these are likely what you’re finding in grocery stores now. Freestone peaches are more likely to be found during the upcoming summer months; their flesh is sweeter, juicier, and more flavorful; making them ideal for baking and cooking.
When choosing peaches, look for well-colored fruit with no green spots (a sign that the fruit was picked too early). The fruit’s flesh should yield slightly when lightly pressed and should have a fragrant peach aroma. Peaches will not ripen or become sweeter after they are picked – they will, however, soften and become juicier in a day or two kept at room temperature. Once ripe, peaches can be stored in the refrigerator.
Recipe: Grilled Peaches