Your Guide to the Best Types of Peaches 

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.

Banner showing sliced peaches with the pits in


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.

Freestone Peaches
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

Clingstone Peaches
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

Semi-Freestone Peaches
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.

Harvest time: Mid- to late June
Best use: eating fresh, baking, cooking, canning, and preserving
Popular varieties: Babcock, Coronet, Dixie Red, Florida Prince, Gold Dust, Harvester


Close up on peeled peaches


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.


Slices of peaches laid in a row


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


View looking down over a bunch of peaches


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.

Harvest time: late July to early August
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.

The Sweetest Peach:
The darling little donut peach, also known as the Saturn peach, is often considered the sweetest peach variety. This heirloom variety looks like a typical peach — that's been smushed! They're soft and tender with less acidity than their yellow-skinned counterparts. Donut peaches are juicy, sweet novelties that are pricier than your everyday variety. 

Harvest time: July and August
Popular varieties: BuenOs, Galaxy, Sweet Bagels, Sauzee Swirls, UFO, Flat Wonderfuls
Runner’s up: Red Haven, Red Globe, Polly, or an Elberta of course.

Best Peach Type for Picky Eaters:
The fuzz on the outer layer of the peach can be a challenge for kids and others sensitive to textures. Meet the naked nectarine! Nectarines are peaches, just without the fuzz thanks to a genetic mutation. It's the only difference. They can be freestone or clingstone, white flesh or yellow flesh, sweet or tart. And not to be outdone, nectarines also come in flat varieties. 

Harvest time: Mid- to late summer
Popular varieties: Arctic Rose, Flaming Red, Diamond Ray, Fantasia, Karla Rose
Runner’s up: All of The Peach Truck’s peaches are scrubbed and cleaned so they’re almost completely fuzz free too! 

Best Type of Peach for Baking:
Assuming you're a cook that likes to keep prep work to a minimum, the best type of peach for baking are freestone varieties. Having a pit that pops out cleanly makes for quick slicing and a nice presentation. Choose a yellow flesh variety like Cresthaven, Glohaven, or Red Haven for sweetness and resistance to browning.

Best Type of Peach for Canning: 
Freestones, again, take the lead here, due to their incredible flavor, easy pit removal, and resistance to browning. Remember, the larger the peach and slices, the shorter your canning time! Choose unblemished peaches with slightly firm flesh. A light syrup with sugar will help preserve their color. Check out our easy canning instructions here.

Peaches growing on a tree branch

I’ve had the privilege of working and talking with peach farmers across the country. The very best way to experience this amazing fruit is fresh. Peaches sold in grocery stores are often picked too early and ripen in distribution houses, and trust me, biting into a crummy peach after waiting all year is such a letdown. 

A rushed peach just can’t taste the same as the fruit that has been allowed to mature on the branch. Once May begins, start checking your farmers markets or look up local growers. Many will have opportunities to pick your own peaches from their orchards. Or, have the freshest of the fresh shipped straight to your door! We work directly with farmers to harvest peaches when they’ve reached their peak and ship to you within hours.  Sign up for The Peach Truck emails and we’ll alert you when these amazing varieties are available.