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Thread: How can I tell if peaches are ripe??

  1. #1
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    How can I tell if peaches are ripe??

    I want to make the Texas Peach Cobbler for my husband. Peaches are on sale for $1.99 at my local Albertsons, so I buy about 10 medium sized peaches. I made sure they weren't too hard, and I didn't get really squishy ones either. I rarely have luck with the boiling water/ice water peeling method, but this time I read about cutting an X in the bottom of each, so decided to give it a try.

    After one minute in the boiling water I put them into ice water for another minute (burning three fingertips with boiling water in the process! :mad: ) and expected those peels to slip off...and not a chance. Out of 10 peaches only one slipped off fairly easily. The rest took me 20 minutes with a paring knife.

    When I finally got them all peeled they were mooshy on the outside, but when I cut into them I had to PRY them off the pit, and they were as hard and yellow as potatoes. Dave tried a bite and said they still weren't ripe. I had to toss 'em, so no dessert tonight.

    What is the easiest way to tell if a peach is ripe? I'm not a fresh peach eater, so I have to go by color and feel, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for! Thanks!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  2. #2
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    Peaches are annoying-tricky!! There's a new book out about the fickleness of produce and the science and economics of produce traffic, How to Pick a Peach. But I myself find it all frustrating. I go for a peach that, when sniffed at the root end, smells like a peach and that is neither hard nor mushy when squeezed gently. That said, I have about 3% success rate buying peaches in the store; they're pretty much a disaster. I like peaches in principle, but rarely in reality. I buy them at the farmers' market when they're just about ripe and then run straight home to enjoy them....
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  3. #3
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    OT but I have great luck peeling peaches and other soft fruit with a soft skin peeler. (http://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-71359-S.../dp/B0007LXTHS) I have had mixed results with the boiling water method--sometimes it works great, other times I end up struggling to get the peels off. But the soft skin peeler is fantastic!

    It's a shame the peachers weren't useable...I sometimes make a crisp with less-than-perfect fruit, because the topping can compensate for lack of flavor in fruit better than a cobbler topping can.
    "In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."
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  4. #4
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    Sorry to hear it didn't work out for you, but did you really have to peel the peaches. I never peel my peaches for recipes and never have a problem in crisps or other recips.

    BTW - nice to see you back Jewel. Also, $1.99 on sale? Around here, a sale is 88 or 99 cents per lb. (unless you go to Fresh Market or Whole Foods).


    ETA - as for ripe peaches, I buy the hard ones and then let them ripen out with bananas. If you buy them too soft, they are squished before you get them in the house.

  5. #5
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    Thanks so much ladies! I might try that peeler, the reviews look interesting!

    It's just frustrating. I know from past experience that if that peach is hard and yellow when I buy it, that peel ain't coming off. I tried to get the marbled colored skins, and when you squeezed gently the fingers made just a little divot, but that still didn't mean ripe obviously.

    I'm going to try the Farmers Market or someplace besides a chain store this weekend and see what I can find...and around here, it isn't unusual to pay $3.99/lb for peaches, so I grabbed these quick!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    I'm going to try the Farmers Market or someplace besides a chain store this weekend and see what I can find...and around here, it isn't unusual to pay $3.99/lb for peaches, so I grabbed these quick!
    We bought some locally grown peaches at the farmers market last weekend. I think we paid $20.00 for a box.






  7. #7
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    Wow Gumbeaux! What great looking peaches! The best peaches I've ever had came off my DFIL's tree in his back yard. I reached up to touch the peach and it fell off in my hand. After gently rubbing some of the fuzz off, I bit into it and the juice literally ran down my arm! I'll never forget that peach. In fact, I told my DH I married him because his Dad grew great peaches!

    But as for now, I also use the smell test as my major indicator of ripeness. We're not lucky enough to have farmer's markets here in the part of Arizona where I live so I have to rely on the grocery stores. When I walk past the display of peaches in the produce section, if I smell peaches, I stop to buy. I still usually put them in a brown paper bag and keep them on the kitchen counter for a day or two before I eat them. You have to check every day because they can spoil very quickly. And I've never had trouble with the boiling water method of peeling if the peach is ripe. Lucky, I guess. And I agree about not peeling the peach most of the time.

    Have you all tried the white fleshed peaches? Yum, Yum!
    "Here's a secret: Good cooks make mistakes all the time. They take wrong turns and end up in strange places." Chef Daniel Patterson

  8. #8
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    I wondered about the peel thing too. This recipe calls for peeled peaches, so I thought it was necessary. Again, I don't eat the darned things fresh, so I've never known if it was a tough skin or not.

    So if I go without peeling....just wash 'em down good and get the fuzz off, then start pitting/slicing? I still want to make that Texas Peach Cobbler, I just think I'm going to spice it up a bit, the reviews say kind of bland!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  9. #9
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    Does the difficulty removing the peel have anything to do with whether it is a freestone or a cling peach? Probably not...but I hate cling peaches!

    I eat them with the peel on, but I always peel them when I cook with them...

    I love good peaches and they are so hard to find.
    "In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."
    --Julia Child

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    I wondered about the peel thing too. This recipe calls for peeled peaches, so I thought it was necessary. Again, I don't eat the darned things fresh, so I've never known if it was a tough skin or not.

    So if I go without peeling....just wash 'em down good and get the fuzz off, then start pitting/slicing? I still want to make that Texas Peach Cobbler, I just think I'm going to spice it up a bit, the reviews say kind of bland!
    I made this the other night, and while the peeling was a bit of a challenge the thought didn't occur to me to leave the peels on I think it might depend on the peel. In retrospect, my peels were a bit chewy, if that's the right wording. The flavor of the peaches were wonderful! Juicy, fresh, flavorful. I bought locally grown, organic. Not the picked before their ripe, bland, flavor-less grocery store chain variety.

    Since DH is on a diet I substituted splenda for baking for the regular sugar and upped the cinnamon a bit.
    I didn't think it was bland, but again I think that had to do with the flavor of the peaches.

  11. #11
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    I have heard that you can even use less ripe peaches in cobblers, pies, and other baked applications b/c the baking will soften them up. May have worked..maybe not!

    I just go by the rule that I never buy a peach that doesn't smell like a peach.

    I have heard--but not confirmed--that the problem with supermarket peaches is that when picked and refrigerated (which I imagine is required for shipping large amounts) peaches will not ripen further, which is why unchilled peaches at markets, whether roadside, farmers, etc., seem so much better or actually end up being so much better.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzAnne View Post
    I didn't think it was bland, but again I think that had to do with the flavor of the peaches.
    I second this...a fruit based dessert such as a cobbler is only going to be as good as the fruit that goes into it. My DH made the Texas Peach Cobbler tonight with some really good peaches and I thought it was excellent...definitely not bland.

    I am lucky enough to shop at a Wegman's which uses signs in the produce department to tell customers when they should expect certain fruits to be ripe. Peaches are usually 1-2 days away and a night in a brown bag will do the trick. That being said however, I would always choose peaches picked fresh at a farmstand if available - especially if they are offering samples. For me, smell has usually been the best indication of a good peach.
    The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue. - Anonymous

  13. #13
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    kingwell, I thought the author of How to Pick a Peach said that same thing when I heard him on Fresh Air, so I did a quick search. Apparently, the peach will continue to ripen after picking, but the sugar will stop developing. Here's a quick info sheet on peaches.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  14. #14
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    I live about 30 minutes from the prime peach orchard area of upstate SC. I go to a particular peach stand every year. The peaches are usually picked the day before or the morning of the day I buy them. Even with the peaches being THAT fresh, they are NOT edible for several days! Yes, they absolutely ripen after they're picked. I usually just spread them on a cookie sheet and just leave them on my kitchen table. Once they're ripened, I've had good luck keeping them in the refrigerator.

    In this area, the freestones still have a little bit longer before they're ripe. I called Monday morning. They thought they could be ready this coming weekend.

    Tidbit of peach information: South Carolina has the second largest peach crop in the country...behind California. I always thought it was funny that the "Peach State" (Georgia) is behind us.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by zackaboo View Post
    ...I am lucky enough to shop at a Wegman's which uses signs in the produce department to tell customers when they should expect certain fruits to be ripe...
    Boy do I miss that store...and my home town Hope you're enjoying it...and getting ready for Musikfest!

    Although I live close to what is now the largest Whole Foods in Florida...nothing can come close to Weggies!!!

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    If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do any fellow being, let me do it now and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."
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    ~~www.Nurse-Gail.com~~

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabbyh View Post
    Boy do I miss that store...and my home town Hope you're enjoying it...and getting ready for Musikfest!
    Slight highjack, but we already have our tickets for Musikfest and are looking forward to it!
    The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue. - Anonymous

  17. #17
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    My husband and I have a peach farm and we always pick the peaches when they start to feel soft. The last couple days of a peach's development are critical because that's when the sugar develops fully and the peaches are the sweetest. When DH picks peaches he feels each one before picking it. One of the problems with commercial peaches is that they are picked too green. The peaches never have the opportunity to get truly sweet.

    DH told me that if you see a peach at the grocery store and it doesn't have lots of fuzz on the skin that it was picked green enough that they could run the peach over a de-fuzzing machine. If we did that with our peaches they would get seriously bruised.

  18. #18
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    How do I know if a peach is ripe!!!......I bite into it. Yep, that is what I do. I am so sick of buying peaches then getting home and they are either too hard and no taste; soft but grainy and dry. I waste money by throwing them away and get discouraged. So now, I take a bite, put it into a bag and pay for that one whether its good or bad. If the peaches are to my liking than I go ahead and buy more. I find it difficult to purchase really good peaches here in my area.

    Hey, Jewel.....its good to see you again.

    Sue

  19. #19
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    One thing I have done is buy one peach that seems good, take it home and test it within a day or so. Then if it's a good one, I'll race back to the store quickly to buy more! Peaches are so frusterating, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with this fruit.

  20. #20
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    Well I'm trying it again. I bought more peaches this afternoon at a different store. When I walked by the peaches I could smell 'em...slightly. They were firm, mostly purple, very little yellow, not much fuzz if any. I picked one up and sniffed the butt end. I'm sure I looked funny to whomever was walking by, 'cause I realized that after I'd sniffed it I couldn't exactly put it back, so it got almost back to the stack and then I pulled out a plastic bag and 'did the right thing'.

    I bought 10 of these medium-sized things and came straight home and put them in a paper bag. They're sitting on my kitchen counter, and I'm not going to touch these bad boys until Saturday afternoon, so that gives them 48 hours in the bag.

    Of course the real shocker was when I got to the checkout. 10 peaches at $1.99/lb was nearly $18. These better A) be dammm good peaches, and B) this Texas Peach Cobbler better turn out to be the most spectacular dessert I've made in awhile!!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  21. #21
    I usually go by smell, after using the hard-as-rock test. Maybe the peaches in your area just aren't ripe yet. It could be early in the season, and you might have to wait a little while.

  22. #22
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    I have heard that putting a banana in the bag will help...don't know if it's true, but it might be worth a try!

    laurachoc, that is a good tip about the fuzz!

    And you know, I don't think there's anything wrong with sniffing a peach and then putting it back! Otherwise, what's the point of sniffing? It's not like you took a bite or something! People are going to wash the things before they eat them...unless they are "testing" them in the store like Mamasue!

    I am seeing peaches more and more at the open markets here, but I feel like in this climate, it's still a bit early. The cherries are at their peak, and at their cheapest right now, and I feel like prime peach season is usually after cherries are pretty much done. But, we had a very warm spring, so maybe they are good now. I might have to get a couple next time I see them, as a test...
    "In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."
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  23. #23
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    I guess the peaches we find here just don't have a thick or fuzzy skin. I remember when I was a kid, a friend couldn't even touch a peach because the skin was so fuzzy and grossed her out.

    Jewel, at that price, I sure hope that the dessert doesn't fail you. I'll be waiting for a review from you!

  24. #24
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    As long as the peaches aren't too soft, I always peel them with a regular vegetable peeler and have absolutely no problem getting the skin off. If you are craving a peach cobbler or pie and you don't have good ones around--in a pinch---the canned ones work okay (better than a nasty supermarket peach). I drain the canned ones and rinse them thorougly to get any of the syrup off. Most of the time, my guests can't tell the difference. I will only buy fresh peaches from the local orchards around here and the season is not for another few weeks and ridiculously short---until then I make do.

    Kristi
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  25. #25
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    That $18 worth of peaches has now been in a brown paper bag since for nearly 48 hours. I opened the bag this morning then they smell peachy and I can push my finger into them and they divot a bit without being mooshy. When I bought them you couldn't dent them with your finger at all they were so firm.

    Think it's safe to make the cobbler tonight or tomorrow morning? I ordered that Zyliss soft skin peeler (thank you Honeygirl! ) but it obviously hasn't arrived yet, so I'm going to do the boiling water/ice water thing again and hope for the best.

    I can already tell I'm going to be spicing up that cobbler a bit, but it won't be so much that it overpowers the peaches. I'll let you know!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    I ordered that Zyliss soft skin peeler (thank you Honeygirl! ) but it obviously hasn't arrived yet, so I'm going to do the boiling water/ice water thing again and hope for the best.

    I hope you like it once you get it! It works great on tomatoes and kiwis, too!
    I will be looking forward to your review of the cobbler!
    "In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."
    --Julia Child

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    I'm sure I looked funny to whomever was walking by, 'cause I realized that after I'd sniffed it I couldn't exactly put it back
    Can't imagine why not. My store has terrible produce, so I'm always inspecting things and then putting them back.

    Crossing my fingers for your cobbler! I'm going to be knee-deep in blueberries myself today.

  28. #28
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    So the cobbler is out of the oven.......... and I don't know if I did it right.

    The good news is that the skins slipped right off the peaches using the boiling water/ice water method. I didn't even need to use the knife. The seemed perfectly ripe as I was slicing.

    I always worry about a recipe when I can't do what it asks me to do. Melted 6 TBS butter in the oven, check. Mixed dry ingredients with the milk/vanilla mixture, check. "SPOON batter over butter SPREADING EVENLY, do not stir". I couldn't spoon my batter if I tried, it was as runny as pancake batter. I poured it. Spooned my peaches onto the butter-pooled pancake batter looking stuff, then popped it into the oven. 40 minutes later, the turbinado went on and the cobbler went back in for 10 minutes.

    It's been cooling for 30 minutes now. There are still puddles of butter around the top of the batter/cake pieces. If you wiggle the cake pieces they look like they're not done, but it's brown on top and bottom, I used a pyrex pan so I can see.

    We'll see when it's cut into tonight, but did anyone else have the butter puddles? Is it supposed to be this way? Normally I wouldn't be concerned over a cobbler recipe, but with $18 worth of peaches (and $15 down the drain the first attempt!) I'm sort of invested in this one!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    So the cobbler is out of the oven.......... and I don't know if I did it right.


    I always worry about a recipe when I can't do what it asks me to do. Melted 6 TBS butter in the oven, check. Mixed dry ingredients with the milk/vanilla mixture, check. "SPOON batter over butter SPREADING EVENLY, do not stir". I couldn't spoon my batter if I tried, it was as runny as pancake batter. I poured it. Spooned my peaches onto the butter-pooled pancake batter looking stuff, then popped it into the oven. 40 minutes later, the turbinado went on and the cobbler went back in for 10 minutes.

    It's been cooling for 30 minutes now. There are still puddles of butter around the top of the batter/cake pieces. If you wiggle the cake pieces they look like they're not done, but it's brown on top and bottom, I used a pyrex pan so I can see.

    I couldn't spoon my batter either, but not because it was runny, it was thick, I would call it gloppy . Very thick, no way it was gonna pour. I did have the same butter issues. The recipe stated to gently press peaches into the batter... Well this just made the butter come up the sides of the pan and pool in the middle. I tried to even out the top so that the batter, butter and peaches were even, but after a few minutes of playing with it I gave up and put it in the oven. I cooked it about 7-8 minutes longer that the recipe stated cuz it just didn't look done after 50 minutes.

    Hope yours turns out great and was worth the $$ of the peaches!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzAnne View Post
    I couldn't spoon my batter either, but not because it was runny, it was thick, I would call it gloppy . Very thick, no way it was gonna pour.
    I read the ingredients twice....1-1/4 cups flour and 1 cup milk. I have no idea why my batter was so thin, but it was! Not gloppy and thick at all, very thin and runny.

    It's 'settled' a little bit and the butter pools seem to have settled into the cobbler a little. It looks really good, but I have a feeling that it wasn't done enough. We'll find out after dinner tonight. If nothing else, Dave says it'll be like a Peach Bread Pudding. See why I love that man? His mother was right 10 years ago I guess. The first time I met her I was telling her that I was enjoying cooking for her son and that he seemed to enjoy it. With a wave of her hand she said "Oh, Dave will eat anything..........".
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

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