Ah, the utterly delectable, perfect peach. No other fruit can compare with that sweet, sticky, chin-dripping deliciousness. With over 300 varieties in the U.S. and 2000 worldwide, recipe possibilities are endless, but it's difficult to know where to start.
Each peach variety has their own unique flavor. Tart peaches are ideal for baking and sorbets, while sweeter peaches shine in a cocktail or on their own. So, which type of peach tastes the best? Read on! We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the different types of peaches and which varieties will leave your family craving more.
1. PICK YOUR PEACH TYPE BY THE PITS
Most people never think about the pit in the center of their peach, but to categorize peaches and determine just how messy your kitchen ends up – start there. Peaches are a stone fruit (or drupe) and, just like cherries, apricots, and plums, they store seeds in their pit. How well a peach’s flesh adheres to this inner “stone” tells us which of the first of three categories it belongs: Freestone, Clingstone or Semi-Freestone.
Cut a freestone in half and the peach's flesh easily falls away from the pit, especially when the fruit is ripe. Freestones are a breeze to prepare and remain the preferred choice for quick meals low-prep preserving. A freestone peach is larger and typically not as juicy as their clingstone cousins, but, don’t worry, you’ll still need a handful of napkins. They’re sweet, but not too sweet for baking, easy to slice, and can be eaten just like an apple in the palm of your hand. Depending on the variety, freestones are available in yellow or white flesh, and are the type most often stocked in supermarkets.
Harvest time: late June through August
Best for: eating fresh, canning, freezing, and baking
Popular varieties: Early Amber, Golden Jubilee, Lucky 13, Nectar, September Snow, July Prince
True to their namesake, a clingstone's flesh hugs the inner stone and does not easily peel away. Go ahead and grab a knife though, because the extra work is worth it! Clingstones are the first peaches to be harvested each season. The yellow and bright red flesh surrounding the pit is sweeter, juicier, and softer than freestones, making them an excellent candidate for jams. They are also fantastic when eaten fresh and blended into beverages. Clingstone varieties are primarily used in commercial canning where machines manage the task of peeling, slicing, and pitting. They are nearly impossible to find in stores, so check The Peach Truck and your local farmer’s markets early in the season.
Harvest time: Mid-May to Early June
Best for: eating fresh, baking, jams, jellies, and commercial purposes
Popular varieties: Flavorich, Rich Lady, June Prince, Red Beauty
The semi-free (also known as semi-clingstone or semi-cling) is a hybrid that gives you the best of both peach worlds. This variety is nearly as juicy and sweet as clingstones with flesh that’s much easier to remove from the pit. It's an all-around great peach for virtually any purpose. Many nectarines are semi-free peaches.
2. ONE PEACH TYPE THAT WILL MAKE YOU MELT
Peaches can also be differentiated by their texture. Sink your teeth into a peach’s rich and sweet body and you’ll be greeted with one of two flesh types: Melting or non-melting.
Melting flesh Peach Varieties
Melting peaches ripen quickly then tend to soften and fall apart over time. Their smooth, buttery texture makes them a melt-in-your-mouth star at farmers markets and in the kitchen. All peaches available from The Peach Truck are melting flesh varieties and utterly swoon-worthy.
Non-melting Flesh Peach Varieties
Non-melting peaches remain firm, never melting, even after ripening. This characteristic makes them a mainstay for commercial processing and canning. You’ll find them in your canned aisle of your grocery store, usually swimming in syrup.
3. CHOOSE YOUR PEACH COLOR VARIETY
The outer color of a peach ranges from the palest yellows to the deepest reds depending on the variety, but it’s the inside that counts. Peaches are available with either yellow flesh or white flesh.
Yellow Flesh Peaches
Grown in Europe and North America, yellow flesh peaches are bright yellow or orange; some varieties fade to a dark red around the pit. Their content is slightly more acidic than white flesh peaches, which adds a tangy sweetness to their flavor profile. Yellow flesh peaches are a quintessential classic in the Southern U.S. and sell out every season at The Peach Truck.
Harvest Time: Mid-to-late Summer
Best for: Stealing the spotlight, eating fresh, tangy desserts, meat & cheese pairings, dressings, baking
Popular varieties: Desert Goldstone, Elberta, Gala, Redgold
White Flesh Peaches
White peaches have white to light-yellow flesh with an occasional deep pink surrounding the pit. They are grown primarily in Asia, however, orchards in the U.S. have branched out in recent years. They have a higher sugar content than yellow flesh peaches and taste less tart. Avoid long bake times in the oven, as their delicate texture can wilt under heat.
Harvest Time: Early Summer
Best for: Adding sweetness, floral desserts, beverages, jams, syrups, grilling
Popular varieties: Snow Beauty, Polly, Arctic Supreme
SO, WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF PEACH?
That depends on how you’re serving these glorious bites of nature. Here’s our top picks:
Best Peach for Eating Whole:
Choose a classic yellow skin with red blush freestone variety. The Elberta is a dependable sweet, juicy choice that won't disappoint.
Runner’s up: Fiesta Gem is our most unique early season variety (think Late May/Early June. They taste like nature’s sweet tart, and they’re hard to beat.