Peaches are one of those fruits we wait for all year long. That all-too-brief season when these sunny stone fruits are at their fragrant peak has us buying peaches at scale and using them in every possible recipe application from sweet to savory, to just eating right over the sink. But it can be a difficult dance if you don't know how to store fresh peaches for optimal enjoyment. It often depends on the level of ripeness in the peaches you have chosen. Here, we've rounded up all the best advice so that you too can know the best way to store peaches.
Choosing the Perfect Peach
For starters, you always want to pick great fruit. You want your peaches to feel heavy for their size, to have taut skin with an even coating of fuzz, and to show off a deep, blushing red or pink. Be sure you don't see any bruises, divots or breaks in the skin.
If you're going to eat the peaches the same day or the next day, you want the fruit to give just slightly when gently pressed, and the peaches should be very fragrant. If the scent has an undertone of alcohol or the texture is very soft, the peach is overripe. Peaches ripen well off the tree, so if you want your peaches to last a week or so, choose peaches that are firm and unblemished.
How to Ripen Peaches
Ripening peaches at home is very simple if you follow some key tricks. First, arrange them stem-side down in an even layer, not touching each other. While you can do this on a flat plate or small sheet pan, it can be nice to give them a little cushion from some lint-free tea towels or paper toweling so that the shoulders of the peaches don't bruise. Let the peaches sit out at room temperature until they are ripe.
If you need to ripen peaches in a hurry, because you need them for a specific recipe, you can store them in a paper bag so that the natural gases they release help to speed up the process. If you need them at lightning speed, add a banana to the bag to increase the volume of those ripening gases. If you are going to eat them within two days, you can store them on the counter, just be sure to keep them away from sunlight, which can speed them to overripen.
How to Store Ripe Peaches
Once your peaches are at your preferred level of ripeness, you can move them to the fridge to keep them for up to a week. Store them in the same manner you ripened them, stem-side down and not touching to prevent bruising. Do not pile them up or put them in your crisper drawer where they can bruise.
How to Freeze Peaches
Once ripe, if you are not going to be able to eat all of your peaches within a few days, it can be helpful to freeze them for future recipes. This is also a smart thing to do to capture that summer flavor for use all year long.
Ripen peaches as indicated, then peel, using this handy guide, cut into wedges and place in some acidulated water so they won't brown when they thaw. You can use lemon juice, white vinegar or citric acid. Drain the peach wedges and place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan in an even layer with the slices not touching, then freeze on the pan for two to four hours. Once they're solidly frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag or vacuum seal.
How to Use Fresh Peaches
Once ripened and properly stored, peaches are a wonderful addition to your meal planning. From savory appetizers like these Grilled Prosciutto Peaches to a terrific accompaniment to any protein like these Roasted Peaches, to terrific baked goods like Peaches & Cream Mini Muffins or a classic Peach Cobbler, the late-summer fruit is massively versatile.
How do you store peach cobbler? Again the fridge is your friend. Cool completely to room temp, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to three days after baking.