Nothing feels like summertime quite like taking a bite of a juicy peach—and it’s hard not to feel cheated when you bite into an unripe, hard, or mealy one. So how do you know when a peach is ripe and ready to eat?
Next time you’re at a farmer’s market or grocery store, rummaging through a pile of peaches, look for these three telltale signs to pick the right one.
1. Look for the Right Color
According to the experts at the Michigan Peach Sponsors, an organization that works closely with a team at Michigan State University on peach research, “The best way to tell if a peach is ripe is by looking for a yellow ground color.” A ground color is the background color of the peach—the part of the fruit that isn’t exposed to the sun. Research by the University of Maryland indicates that the ground color turns from green (when it’s unripe) to yellow (when it’s ripe) to deep orange (when it’s overripe) as the peach matures. Yellow indicates peak ripeness.
Contrary to popular belief, a reddish blush color on the opposite side of the ground color isn’t always a sign of ripeness. This coloration happens naturally in response to sunlight.
Any green on the skin means the peach is probably not ripe and was picked too early. You should avoid peaches with visible dark spots or bruises. This is a sign the peach is overripe.
2. Smell That Peachy Scent
Smelling a peach is another way to tell if it’s ready to eat. As peaches ripen, their aroma becomes stronger. A ripe peach will give off a sweet smell—well, exactly like a peach. If it smells like a sweet peach, it will taste like a sweet peach. Before you bring your bounty to the check-out line, sniff them first.
3. It Has To Feel Just Right
By far the best way to tell if a peach is ripe is by feeling it. You want your fruit to have some give when you gently squeeze it—not too hard that you bruise or poke a hole into it. Peaches tend to bruise easily, so don’t leave behind a pile of damaged peaches at the store.
If it’s firm with a teeny bit of give, like a tennis ball, the peach is ready to eat. If the peach is rock hard, like a baseball, it was harvested too early and isn’t ripe.
How To Ripen Peaches Faster
If you have peaches at the baseball stage—meaning they are not ripe—let them sit at room temperature with ample sunlight to help them ripen quickly. As long as you don’t stack your peaches, placing them next to each other so they don’t bruise, you will have perfectly ripe peaches in no time.
The Trick To Stop Peaches From Over-Ripening
If you find your peaches ripening too quickly before you have a chance to eat them, stick them in the refrigerator. Just be sure not to keep them in there for more than a day or two because they will dry out or become mealy. Thank sweet, peachy goodness for the fridge trick!