Do you hate to get home with peaches and find they’re not ripe enough to eat? Don’t worry, there are several ways to ripen a peach at home as long as they weren’t picked too early.

A ceramic bowl full of peaches.

Ripening Peaches

A fresh juicy peach just can’t be beat, but only if they’re ripe. If you find yourself with less than ripe peaches, you can ripen a peach at home with a few tricks.

The good news is that peaches are one of those marvelous fruits that will ripen after they’ve been picked as long as they weren’t picked green. Since they bruise easily, they’re normally picked before they have fully ripened so they won’t be destroyed in shipping.

This means that when you bring them home from your local grocery store or farmers market they probably won’t be ready to eat. What do you do with unripe peaches when you want to make a homemade peach cobbler or a peach cobbler cake?

Tips for How to Ripen Peaches Faster

Here are a few tips to ripen them faster when you just can’t wait for mother nature.

  • If they’re almost ready to eat, leave them at room temperature on a window sill so they can get some direct sunlight and you’ll have juicy peaches in no time.
  • If they are slightly soft but still firm, place them in a brown paper bag and roll down the top of the bag. You can use a plastic bag in a pinch.
  • If you have rock-hard peaches, place a ripe banana in the brown paper bag with the peaches. The bananas produce ethylene gas that speeds up the ripening process of other fruit. You’ll still need to have a little patience because this method will take a couple of days.
Peaches ripening with a banana.

Ripening Peaches: When are Peaches in Season?

Most of the peaches in the US come from California where the growing season runs from April to October. But don’t discount Georgia and the Carolinas where you can find plenty of sweet juicy peaches from May through the end of July and even into August and September for some varieties.

The further North you go the later the peach season, with most starting in July and going through September.

How to tell if a peach is ripe

While a peach will ripen some off the tree, the sweetest peaches are those picked at their peak. If you don’t have a peach tree in your backyard, here are some things to look for in a perfectly ripe peach when you’re choosing which peaches to buy.

A black bowl of fresh peaches
  • A peach will be at its peak when you can smell its sweet aroma. It should smell like you want it to taste. A sweet smell means a sweet peach. If you can’t smell anything when you bring it to your nose, it’s not ready.
  • Look at the color of the fruit. Peaches at their peak will have yellow undertones and have some color to them. You want to avoid any peaches that has even a hint of green color. This means they were picked too early and won’t ripen.
  • When you hold a ripe peach, it should give a little when you gently squeeze it. If it’s rock-hard, it’s not ready to eat.

What are the best peaches for baking

Peaches fall into two types, Freestones which are peaches that can easily be removed from the pit, and Clings where the peach is firmly attached to the pit. Freestones are the most common and what are used most in baking because they’re easier to peel and slice.

However, some Clingstone varieties are much sweeter, so it you don’t need perfect slices, then search out some Clings at the fruit stands. What you typically see in grocery are Freestone.

White peaches on the other hand have a shorter growing season but are some of the sweetest peaches you’ll find. They’re lower in acidity making them sweeter than yellow peaches. They come in both Freestone and Cling varieties.

If you have extra peaches around and don’t feel like baking a peach cobbler, they’re so light and refreshing in Sangria.

How to cut a peach

When baking with peaches you’re going to need to cut them and most of the time peel them. Some folks like to parboil or blanche peaches to make it easier to peel. But I’ve peeled my share of peaches over the years and I can peel a lot of peaches in the time it would take to boil water.

Just take a sharp knife and remove the skin, it’s super easy.

The problem with cutting a peeled peach is that peaches are juicy and it’s hard to cut something that is slipping around. I find the easiest way to cut a peach is to cut around the peach and then twist it so that it separates from the pit. Remove the pit and if you’re making peach dumplings and need peach halves you’re done.

Peaches cut in half with butter on top.

If you need quarters then just cut the halves again.

Say you’re making a peach crumble or peach coffee cake and need slices. You can hold the peach half in your hand and cut it into slices, or place it on a cutting board and cut it into even slices.

Peach slices on a peach coffee cake batter.

If you have a Cling peach, cut a slice and pull it away from the pit. The first slice is the hardest to come out, after that you just cut into the pit holding the peach in your hand. This is the method I’ll use if I need chopped peaches like when I’m making a tomato and peach salad, peach salsa or peach cinnamon rolls.

Peaches chopped into small chunks on a paper towel.

If you’re just cutting a peach to eat or leaving the peeling on, then turn the peach on its side and cut it around the equator rather than from top to bottom. Then twist and it will come apart.

How do you store peaches

Once your peaches are perfectly ripened, you can store them in the refrigerator to extend their life for a few days.

Where to store Peaches

Once peaches are ripe, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator to keep them from becoming too ripe. You can also freeze them. Just peel, slice and place on a cookie sheet and flash freeze. Once frozen, place them in a freezer bag. This will keep them from sticking together.

Freezing after you Ripen Peaches

If you have a bumper crop of juicy peaches, and there are too many peaches to eat, try freezing them. To freeze peaches, peel and slice and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze in a single layer. Once frozen, place in a freezer bag or vacuum seal them.

They’ll stay fresh in the freezer for about a year if they’ve been vacuum sealed. They’ll still be ok to eat after that but might not have as much flavor.

A basket with peaches from the farmers market

Peach Questions

How to keep peaches from turning brown

When cut peaches are exposed to the air they’ll turn brown like apples and pears. An easy way to prevent this, is to sprinkle them with a citrus juice like lemon or orange depending on what you’re using them for.

What’s the difference between a peach and a nectarine?

The only difference between a peach and a nectarine is the fuzzy skin on a peach compared to the smooth skin on a nectarine. They can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Are white peaches sweeter than yellow peaches?

White peaches tend to be sweeter than yellow peaches because they have less acidity.

Do peaches ripen after picking?

As long as peaches were not picked when they were green, they will continue to ripen off the tree.

How long does it take for peaches to ripen?

If peaches are hard when you bring them home, it should take about 3-5 days to ripen if just sitting on the counter

What fruit desserts can you make with fresh peaches

Savory peach recipes

I first published this post on How to Ripen Peaches on my Southern food blog Butter and Baggage.

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