Peach: The Good Fruit Guide View

A peach is a large ‘stone fruit’ with slightly fuzzy skin, very similar in eating characteristics to the smooth-skinned nectarine. Peaches often appear less colourful than nectarines due to the fuzz, but the flesh is similar, either yellow or white. Whether you like peaches or nectarines is down to personal preference, but a good peach should be as satisfying as a good nectarine. If there are differences in flavour between the two, it is because, over the years, there have been separate breeding programmes to produce new varieties.

Peach quality is somewhat variable in the experience of many people, often frustratingly so. The image of a delicious fruit bursting with flavour, juice running down your chin, is too often the preserve of high summer holidays in France. This is partly due to the swift and bewildering change from one variety to another through a season, which means consistency of eating quality is difficult to maintain. However, weather conditions also play a significant part, and the maturity of fruit at harvest has a big influence as growers try to pick the fruit that will last the journey to the market-place.

It is tricky to give absolute advice about peach eating quality, but we will try our best as the peak times of the season are often the most interesting. However, at many times of the season you get what you pay for: the more expensive supermarkets definitely lead on eating quality as they work hard to select the right varieties at the right time.

Peach - Good Fruit Guide Market Update

April 2012:
The first peaches are arriving from Egypt (spotted in Tesco). These will be early season varieties so will be a huge contrast to the late season fruit recently stopped from Chile: light and juicy, perhaps a little tangy.

Peach - Directory of Varieties

Peach - Gladys - gladys

Gladys

A white fleshed peach with an attractive deep red colouration over a creamy white background. Gladys is available as a later-season variety but has good texture and flavour, as well as decent sweetness. The texture has hints of being characteristic of the later season varieties being fairly dense with a minor cloying nature and slight … Read More »

Sweet Perfection

Sweet Perfection is a new yellow-fleshed peach variety with good flavour and colour, and resistance to Peach Leaf Curl, a disease common to most peach varieties. The skin is non-furry with a creamy pink colouration, usually with a red blushed area. The variety could become popular due to the leaf curl resistance which means it … Read More »

Variety

Peach Varieties on Sale in UK: March September Snow Argentina April Candor Morocco April Florida Prince Egypt April Tropic Prince Egypt May Candor Morocco May Early Spring Israel May Florida Prince Egypt May Florida star Egypt May May Crest Spain May Plagold Spain May Platonomel Spain May Plawhite Spain May Queen Crest Spain May Red … Read More »

Yellow Flesh

Yellow-fleshed peaches account for the majority of peach varieties.

Peach - How to Determine Quality

In The Stores: Picking a good tasty peach every time is a difficult job, even for a seasoned supermarket technologist. The best peaches are ripened on the tree and sold in the local market the next day – but in our summer, you have to be on holiday in the Med. for that pleasure! So how do you get the best in your fruit bowl? Here are some tips:

  • Timing is important: early, mid or late season varieties are very different.
    • The early varieties grow more quickly so have lighter flesh and less sugar, though can still be pleasant.
    • Mid-season varieties are usually the best as they are more akin to the older varieties and have not been specially bred for earliness or late hanging on the tree.
    • The longer the fruit is on the tree, the sweeter it becomes, but the flesh also becomes more dense and less juicy and open in the late varieties.
  • Variety has a big influence on eating quality, but there are so many that they are difficult to follow. Although there are some recognisable favourites, we have to trust that the supermarket gets the choice right.
  • The more expensive or premium peaches should be better tasting.
  • Peaches labelled ‘Tree Ripened’ should also be better tasting as they have been on the tree for longer.
  • Varieties with high red colouration are not likely to be better tasting than varieties with less colour.
  • Within the same variety, the fruit with more red colour may taste better as it may have had more exposure to the sun on the tree.
  • Fruit with a green background colour is less likely to ripen properly.

At Home: Peaches for UK retailers are usually picked a little immature so they last the journey from the orchards. If a peach has been picked at the right time, it should ripen in your fruit bowl, even if it is quite hard when bought.

  • Store peaches in the fridge if you don’t need them for a few days.
  • To ripen, place in your fruit bowl at room temperature.
  • Prepare to be patient: wait until the peach flesh gives way to light pressure.
  • Slight wrinkling of the skin is an indication of ripeness, though not if the flesh remains hard (this usually means the fruit will not ripen at all).
  • Ripe fruit will have a good aroma.

Quality Problems:

  • Mould and decay.
  • Lack of ripening.
  • Juiceless flesh.
  • Poor taste; acidity.
  • Bruise and damage.

Peach - The Science

Description: The peach is fleshy, juicy, round fruit with a large hard-shelled stone and a velvety soft skin. The flesh is either yellow or whitish and is sweet with a delicate flavour. The peach tree is deciduous with distinctive elongated leaves. There are three categories of peach:
– Free-stone peaches which account for most fresh varieties;
– Cling-stone peaches which are commonly used for canning;
– Donut peaches which are a bit of a novelty, but interesting all the same.
Technically, nectarines are also a type of peach, but are generally marketed separately and now have their own breeding programmes.
Family
: Rosaceae
Species: Prunus persica
Origin: Native to China
Storage: Peaches are a delicate fruit prone to bruising, and will ripen quickly at ambient temperatures (providing it has not been picked too soon). Storage in cool temperatures, down to 1oC, is therefore very important to allow time for marketing.
Grown in: Peaches are grown warmer temperate and Mediterranean climatic zones, but commercial production is restricted to Mediterranean zones with cold winters and consistent hot summers.

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