Peaches: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 07.49 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
If you grew up in the 90s you’d remember the song “Peaches” by altrock band the Presidents of the United States of America. “I’m moving to the country to eat a lot of peaches…” the song goes. Clearly the protagonist of the song was aware of their delicious flavour and soft juicy texture, no doubt an integral factor in the culinary history of the peach taking it from its origins in China to the Mediterranean and the United States. Peaches are high in Vitamins A and C, Niacin and Potassium and make an ideal summer snack.
When picking peaches look for peaches that have lost their green “ground colour”. This is the colour that changes once the peach has matured – often a mature peach will develop a yellow ground colour along with a red blush. A mature peach will have a fragrant “peachy” smell and should be slightly soft to the touch. Peaches are amongst the most sensitive fruit so you need to take care when picking. Grasp the peach in your hands with only a little pressure. This should be applied from the length of your fingers rather than from your fingertips as this can bruise the fruit. Then twist and pull. A mature peach should come easily from the branch. Don’t forget to set it down gently in your picking container – a dropped peach will bruise and may even puncture which will speed up the process of decay.
When selecting peaches look for those that have lost their green tinge and have developed a yellow ground colour. Keep an eye out for blemishes, bruises and ruptures to the skin. Since peaches are so delicate, transport and even presentation at a grocery store or supermarket can damage their soft outer layer allowing bacteria to enter and speeding up the fermentation process. When you handle a peach select one that has a soft weightiness to it and avoid ones that are too hard or too soft.
Peaches go off extremely quickly so you should only buy as much as you are planning to eat in the next few of days. Peaches sitting on the counter are good for up to 3 days. Refrigerated peaches will last only a couple of days longer at between 3 to 5 days. Frozen peaches will last up to 12 months, but for best flavour should be peeled and de-stoned before freezing. Peaches also are great for jamming and pickling, so go ahead and experiment if you have a bigger than expected harvest.
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