Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Late Summer Peaches and Nectarines

By James Parker, August 3, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by James Parker
August is a month of change in the produce business when many of the fruits we have been enjoying all summer start to wane and others (that have been growing in the warm summer sun) really start to hit their stride. For peaches and nectarines, August also brings a change in the characteristics of the varieties harvested. These changes affect how you should select, store and eat these fruits. The differences are small but important. By late July most growing areas for peaches and nectarines have finished with cling varieties. “Cling” is a variety designation that literally means the flesh of the peach clings to the stone (the hard seed or pit in the center of the fruit). Varieties harvested in the later summer months are known as “freestone” varieties, where the flesh of the peach separates from the stone as the fruit ripens. Both types are excellent in their own right but selection and ripening characteristics change in some very important ways. Early season cling fruit is best when eaten soft, about same stage of softness as a ripe avocado. Later summer freestone varieties are best eaten firmer — allowing them to get as soft as the early varieties can sometimes result in fruit with a mushy texture. Nora and Mike Naylor — Central Valley California Growers When selecting fruit, color is a very reliable indicator of how ripe the fruit is. Both cling and freestone varieties have varying degrees of blush (the red shading), which is largely determined by variety and the position of the fruit on the tree. The important color though is yellow — specifically if the fruit is uniformly so. I will look carefully for yellow at the stem side of the fruit since this is generally the last place where the fruit goes from an immature green to yellow. David Mas Masumoto — Central Valley California Grower Eating freestone fruit is easier in some respects, but also comes with a danger you should be mindful of. Because the flesh separates easily from the stone it is much easier to prepare for serving but there is a condition more common in freestone varieties called “split pit” — this is where the hard shell surrounding the seed will sometimes crack and pieces will remain with the flesh. You should always examine the stone to make sure there are no pieces missing or, if the stone is split, to make sure you have removed all of it from the flesh of the fruit. Stone fragments are very hard and can crack a tooth. Storage temperature is also extremely important with all varieties of stone fruit. It’s best to store all stone fruit at room temperature and you should be careful to buy only what you need over a few days. Most home refrigerators run between 35 and 39°F, which is not ideal for storing stone fruit. Fruit stored at this temperature will get mealy and can turn black on the inside. Brent Smittcamp (with son Jack) Wawona farm — Central Valley California Despite the pitfalls (pun intended) late summer stone fruit is often the very best of the season. I look forward to my favorite variety coming soon (Elberta), which we will pick ourselves off of the two trees our office has adopted in the central valley near Fresno. Some summer fruits are past their peak and we will be saying goodbye to them soon until next season. But peaches and nectarines are not done just yet. There is still a lot of summer left. Fresh picked Elbertas- yum!
Category: Food & Recipes

 

14 Comments

Comments

Connie@BhimiBlog says ...
OMG. Really! I was just getting on FB to comment to my local WF that the peaches I bought were chalky/mushy. SO glad I read this!!! Thanks for posting this. I do wish signs were posted with "how to select..." information for each food. Better yet a permanent flip book posted somewhere in the produce section would be AWESOME!
08/04/2010 2:56:00 PM CDT
sheron says ...
Where can one find peaches like the ones shown in the box at the end of the article. Have NEVER seen peaches as beautiful as those!!!
08/05/2010 1:28:45 AM CDT
Veronica Culver says ...
Great story! I learned a lot! Thank you!
08/05/2010 11:39:42 PM CDT
parkerj says ...
Hi Sheron, The peaches pictured were hand picked by team members at our office. Unfortunately this is a variety you won't find at a supermarket (they bruise very easily). These came off trees we "adopt" evey year from a farmer Named David Mas Masumoto (also pictured above). He puts the whole grove up for adoption evey year and two weekends in August the "parents" go and harvest the fruit. You can get more information on how to apply at http://www.masumoto.com/ (it is great fun) JP
08/06/2010 9:30:43 AM CDT
Michelle says ...
It might also be a great idea to train the checkers and baggers at your whole foods store to handle with care as most of my peaches and nectarines when bruised and manhandled by those apes go bad inside of 1 to 2 days of purchasing. So I have gone to buying mine from a farmstand where they are easier on the fruit and not such bruts! at 2.99 a pound and up!
08/09/2010 4:46:38 PM CDT
Jim says ...
Very helpful, concise article- Thanks much.
08/15/2010 6:27:55 PM CDT
helen j hoang says ...
they r good only they r chilled
08/25/2010 10:13:51 PM CDT
Richard Gardnher says ...
I am interested in canned Elberta peaches. According to a site on the internet you apparently receive canned Elberta's from a grower in Dinuba. These are the ones I am interested in. I can buy them now from a grower and packer in Oregon, however, they are finding it increasingly difficult to get fruit. The problem seems to be the increasing replacing of tree fruits with wine grape varieties. Apparently, they are forced to find Elberta's in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia to fill their orders. Incidentally they normally run out before the new season can be processed and scanned.
06/28/2011 7:10:48 PM CDT
Elizabeth Hoysted says ...
Hi there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!
06/29/2011 5:21:58 AM CDT
Lyni says ...
Just got a 'Kaweaii Peach'......anyone know if this is a freestone or cling....or if it is yellow or white....? Thanks
10/20/2012 1:25:54 PM CDT
John Hirschbeck says ...
We are interested ni purchasing and having shipped a Case of Elberta Peaches. I live in Olympia, WA If anyone knows who I could contact to have some shipped to me I would be appreciaitve. Thanks John Hirschbeck jrjr1234@comcast.net
01/14/2013 8:37:47 PM CST
Heather Hansen says ...
I just bought a box of peaches and they were beautiful on the outside but all around the pit is really gross and mushy. What would be the cause of this?
09/10/2013 11:58:48 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@HEATHER - So sorry to hear about this! It sounds like it was a bad case of peaches. Definitely let the store know so they can refund/exchange them for you. The Produce team might have more insight as to why this occurred.
09/10/2013 4:05:11 PM CDT
Jackie says ...
Peaches do bruise easily. I ask the checker to be careful, 'I'm picky about my peaches'. Everyone smiles , then asks, 'is this OK?' Also take them out of the plastic bag when you get home - immediately, if not sooner.
07/25/2014 7:20:38 AM CDT