Peaches supply some beta-carotene (especially
the darker-fleshed varieties) and vitamin C. They also supply
boron and a fair amount of fibre, about half of it soluble.
Peaches do not get any sweeter after they have been picked, although
the fruit will become softer and juicier as it matures. Look for
peaches with skins that show a background colour of yellow or
warm cream, the amount of pink or red "blush" on their
cheeks depends on the variety and it is not a reliable indicator
of ripeness. Undertones of green, however, indicate the peaches
were picked too soon and will not be sweet. Look for plump, medium
to large peaches with unwrinkled skins. Choose fruits that are
Avoid rock-hard peaches and choose those that
yield slightly to pressure along the "seam," even if
they may otherwise be fairly firm. Peaches at this stage of ripeness
will soften if kept at room temperature for a few days.
If you purchase firm peaches, leave them at room temperature for
a few days to soften or place them in a paper bag to encourage
the process. Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator if you are
not going to eat them within a day. They should keep for three
to five days, but check them every day to be sure they're still
in good condition.
Serve peaches chilled or at room temperature; the sweet flavour
and fragrance are more pronounced at room temperature. Wash peaches
well before eating or cooking them.
When eating a peach raw, there's no need to
peel it, peaches that you intend to cook should be peeled first.
To loosen the skin for easier peeling, drop peaches into a pot
of boiling water; remove them after 30 seconds to one minute and
immediately immerse in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Remove the peel, using your fingers or a table knife. Peeled or
cut peaches will turn brown if exposed to air, so rub peeled fruit
with lemon or orange juice or dip slices into the fruit juice.