- Cutting peaches requires a bit more work than some fruit, but it's easily done.
- A couple special techniques can help you remove the skin.
- Peaches are versatile in the kitchen and can be used in a variety of ways.
Fresh peaches are truly one of nature's greatest treats — although they've certainly had some help from enterprising farmers over the centuries to become what they are now. And while, yes, you can eat a peach whole like you would an apple, many a dish calls for peaches to be cut.
Cutting a peach is slightly more complicated than cutting other fruits due to the nature of its skin and stone. However, several options are available to those who wish to get their knives out for the fruit.
First, however, you'll need to choose the right peach for the job.
Choosing a Peach
Peaches ripen quickly and can go from firm to overripe in a matter of days. A ripe peach should have a bit of give, but not too much: If you poke it, the flesh should compress a little but shouldn't feel squishy. If it's squishy, it's overripe and will be rotten soon.
Similarly, if the peach has no give whatsoever, it's underripe and won't be ready to eat yet.
There's a spectrum of ripeness for peaches that determines their use. Peaches that are on the firmer side are better for baking, and peaches on the riper side are better to eat fresh. More on that later.
Without further ado, let's get down to paring the peach — and what to do with it afterward.
Step 1: Removing the Skin (Optional)
Many varieties of peaches have fuzzy skin, which while edible, may not be the most pleasant part of the fruit. Additionally, cooked dishes like peach cobbler, peach ice cream, or peach pie all require the skin be removed. Similarly, if you want a simple fruit salad you'll likely want to remove the skin because its fuzziness can disrupt the texture of the salad.
There are generally two ways to do this. Which one you choose depends on a few things:
- The number of peaches you have
- The ripeness of the peaches
- Your skill and patience with a paring knife
Generally, if you have a lot of peaches — if you're making a cobbler, for example — the following step is the way to go.
Blanching to Remove the Skin
Blanching is a technique that involves putting the fruit in boiling water for a brief time and then removing the fruit to an ice bath. The process loosens the skin and greatly reduces the amount of labor involved in peeling the fruit.
Blanching is simple: First score the bottom of the peach with your paring knife into an X shape. This will help you remove the skin after the ice bath. Next dip your peaches in boiling water for around 30 seconds to a minute. The skin will begin to loosen — if your peaches are very ripe, you'll need less time than if they're underripe.
After the time allotted, pull the peaches out of the boiling water using a slotted spoon or another kitchen utensil that won't damage the peach. Put it directly in the ice bath — this is known as "shocking." The ice bath stops the cooking process and helps the skin loosen through the dramatic temperature change.
Once the peaches have sufficiently cooled, you can use your paring knife to slide the skin off. It should come off easily, leaving you with a skinless peach.
Blanching works best with ripe peaches on which the skin is already loose. If your peaches are still somewhat firm, it's best to use a paring knife, which is our next alternate step to blanching.
Peeling the Peach With a Paring Knife
If your peaches are firm — which, by the way, is ideal for peach pie or cobbler since they keep their shape — you'll want to use a sharp paring knife to remove the skin.
Holding the fruit in your non-dominant hand, slide the blade of the paring knife under the skin toward the top of the peach. Peel downward to remove the skin in sections as you would a potato or an apple. Be sure to keep your fingers on your non-dominant hand out of the way.
When most of the skin is off, you'll be left with a bit of skin towards the top of the peach. Simply slice it off, and you're good to go.
Step 2: Cutting the Peach Into Slices
Once you’ve peeled your peach (if you wanted to), you'll likely want to cut it into smaller pieces. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of peaches: clingstone peaches and freestone peaches. Clingstone peaches, well, cling to the stone in the middle, whereas freestone peaches are much easier to detach from the stone.
Usually, store-bought peaches are freestone peaches, which makes life much easier. Clingstones are usually used for canning peaches. However, there's a chance you'll encounter a clingstone peach. Bear that in mind.
The easiest way to cut an already-peeled peach is to use your paring knife to slice all the way around the stone. Simply slide the knife's blade into the peach's flesh and cut all the way around. Once you've cut all the way around the peach, use both hands to twist the peach halves in opposite directions. This will leave you with peach halves which can be further sliced down to size.
These halves will easily separate from the stone in a freestone peach, whereas on a clingstone peach you may need to cut around the stone to remove the halves.
Once your halves are separated, place them on a cutting board. You can then cut them into slices, cubes, chunks, or whatever you need for the dish you're preparing.
Peach Dishes to Make Your Mouth Water
So now that you have cut peaches, you need to figure out what to do with them. This is one of the best problems a person can have since the options are so many. For the following dishes, you’ll want peaches that are skinless and either sliced or diced.
Fruit Salad or Smoothies
One of the simplest and most refreshing ways to use your cut peaches is to put them in a classic fruit salad. A chilled fruit salad with peaches, watermelon, mango, or banana, for example, is among the most refreshing things in the summertime. Be sure to cut your peaches to a similar size as the other fruit in your salad.
Similarly, you can add your peaches to any variety of fruit smoothie since they blend so well, especially when they're ripe.
Among the pantheon of desserts, peach cobbler or peach pie could easily have a claim as the world's best.
While sliced peaches are typical in pies, cakes and quick breads work well with sliced or diced pieces if you'd like to bite into peach, or you can use a strained peach purée in place of the liquid in the recipe to give the dish a peach flavor throughout.
Another fantastic dessert starring peaches is peach ice cream. Adding fresh peaches to homemade vanilla ice cream makes one of the best flavor combinations possible and will delight just about anyone — family, friend, or foe.
Whatever you intend to do with your peaches, you'll need sharp knives and a good cutting board to get the job done right. Using a dull paring knife is much less efficient and actually much more dangerous than using a sharp knife. Similarly, since peaches are so juicy, using a sturdy cutting board to prepare them is a must to prevent potentially dangerous slipping.
However, using quality equipment will guarantee good results every time. And that's all we want for you: satisfying results. Happy cooking.