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Sep 15, 2006 09:19 PM

Got Any Peach Ripening Secrets?

I'm sick and tired of (expensive) peaches and nectarines that refuse to ever get ripe and juicy on a sunny window sill - it's infuriating. All too often mine turn into soft potatoes - mealy, if you know what I mean... any peach ripening secrets?
What to do, what to do...
OR, in lieu of ripening hints, is there some way to tell if an unripe peach is going to eventually ripen properly or not?

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  1. Put them in a brown paper bag with an apple. They'll ripen in no time. But check daily!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: RichK

      I also put them in a brown paper bag, and it works really well. But I've never added an apple--how does the apple aid the ripening?

      1. re: Nicole

        The paper bag works for me every time. See the link I posted below about why it works, scientifically speaking.

    2. Peaches will get softer if you let them sit, but they only get riper on the tree. I buy ripe, slightly hard peaches and keep them in the refrigerater, taking them out a few at a time to soften before eating- and also so they are not cold. In other words, an unripe peach will never ripen properly.
      Pears, on the other hand are mealy if they ripen on the tree. Buy them hard and keep them out to get riper and sweeter on the countrer.

      1. My mom used to ripen persimmons in uncooked rice. I wonder if it works the same with peaches? Anyone?

        1. Well, peaches are my favorite fruit. I live in the Boston Area, so it is hard to get good peaches any time of the year. This year, my family made our bi annual vacation to north carolina, and the peaches there were sublime. We were dr;ilving, so the night before we left the Outer Banks, I went to the local farm stand and bought a zen. They wer mnore than fabulous.
          Fast forward to a week or so ago, and I went to the Farmm ( Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA) where i buy all of my produce. Bought some local peaches, and some peaches from somewhere else ( can't remember where). the local peaches neeve really made the grade. The other peaches were ok, but no where near the ones I got in the south.
          I guess I have come to realize that I will have to enjoy my peaches every other year. My location is not conducive to good peaches- and I don't think that peaches you ripen can ever taste as good as buying them locally at their peak.

          I hope some Boston hounds can tell me I am wrong, and point me in the right direction.

          4 Replies
          1. re: macca

            I've been vacationong in Maine for 2 weeks eating the best peaches I've ever had, They are like velvet. I believe they are from SC

            1. re: shaebones

              I believe it- we were in North Carolina, and they were unbelievable. Lived on them all week!

            2. re: macca

              I've had some excellent NE peaches this year, and some just OK ones. All were better with a few days in the bag. All were better than the stuff in the supermarket. Some of it's the variety, some of it's probably the weather, and also just dumb luck. I wish I could get good Jersey peaches.

              1. re: macca

                I've been getting and consuming mass quantities of excellent peaches in New England for decades. The area west of boston, around Harvard, has a long tradition of fruit growing; mostly apples. But if you head out there you can buy prefect peaches starting early in August thru about the first week October. Bolton Orchards at the corner of 110 and 117 is a good example. It's worth learning about the different varieties so you know which are best week by week.

                Recently the farmers markets that come once a week to towns around me here in Boston have had excellent peaches, often cheaper than out in Bolton. Given that Bolton is an hour's drive that's nice!

                All these peaches are improved by a bit of further ripening on the counter.

                I have never gotten good peaches at Wilson's or Russo's but then I haven't tried much.

                They sell lovely peaches at Hay Market from distant lands; but they have always been very disappointing - I'll need to try that paper bag trick. I have great luck with the bosc pears, once I learned to keep them in the chiller, then let them sit out for 3 days before eating, and that pears rippen inside out - so check/squeeze the tip.

              2. A peach never gets any riper than when it's picked.

                As Leslie notes it will soften, but it won't get any sweeter.

                Selling unripe peaches should be a felony.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I've seen you say this before Robert, but all I know is when I went peach picking a few weeks ago, the peaches on the trees weren't sweet and juicy, but they got that way after a few days on the counter.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    A hard peach won't let much juice out, so it doesn't taste like much, but it has all the sugar it's ever going to have.

                    A peach picked unripe will never be as good as it should have been.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Found this explanation of why the paper bag trick works -- and for me it does invariably, producing beautifully ripened fruit:

                      "As fruit ripens it releases a natural hormone called ethylene. The paper bag traps this gas close to the fruit, thus ripening it more quickly, while still allowing some ventilation. But be careful -- your peaches and pears can go from rock hard to mush in a few days if you don't monitor them.

                      "To get a little more technical, ethylene triggers the creation of enzymes, which cause starches and acids to break down into sugar. They also break down cell walls, softening the fruit. Fruits ripen in order to kick-start a new growing cycle, by providing their seeds with nutrients.

                      "Certain fruits, apples in particular, produce a great deal of ethylene, so it's important to store them separately from vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and leafy greens, as these plants can be harmed by the gas. However, you can add an apple to a bag of plums, tomatoes (yes, tomatoes are a fruit), or other fruit to speed up the ripening process."


                      1. re: Kitchen Imp

                        Ethelyne ripened fruit, be it through natural or synthetic gasses, will never taste as good as tree ripened. The one exception is pears. Certain varieties of pears should be cured before eating.

                        1. re: Kitchen Imp

                          True, nothing beats fresh-from-the-tree ripe fruit, as nice as the paper-bag trick is for stuff from the market. (I especially love it when just-picked fruit is still sun-warm!) I'm curious about the pears, though - what do you mean by "cured"?

                          1. re: Kitchen Imp

                            The best pears I've had are from a farmer who "cures" them in his cellar for three weeks (his words). I don't know if there's a special process to it or not, but he told me you should never eat a pear off the tree.

                            1. re: Kitchen Imp

                              Can I just say that this is the single most useful thing I have ever read on Chowhound?

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I'm with Robert. The best peaches I've had were farm fresh and even bruised in places, bursting with sunny sweetness. Although, I just got some hard-as-stone peaches from my CSA and will indeed be trying the apple + paper bag trick. C'est la vie.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            It *should* be a felony. Apparently, so-called heirloom peaches will ripen (and gain color) even if picked unripe, but you're going to be hard pressed to find 'em many places.

                            1. re: MollyGee

                              No, heirloom peaches are no different. Pick dead ripe Fay Elbertas off the tree and they're ambrosial. Pick them hard and let them soften, you might not see any point in preserving the variety.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Hm. The Ram Das seller at the Berkeley Farmers market convinced me (correctly) that his heirloom peaches would ripen and gain color (he said that "in the old days" one could tell the ripeness of the peach based on its color. I was seriously skeptical, but he was right: the peaches I bought were not ripe and had a greenish hue and a couple of days later they ripened up and gained a beautiful peach color and smell.

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Hi Robert,
                              Maybe it *should* be a crime to sell unripe peaches, but perhaps since they might have been picked unripe and then gotten softer while in storage, but apparently no riper, perhaps it would make more sense to make it a crime to PICK peaches before they are ripe? Unfortunately, they can often be soft when you buy them and turn out to be unsweet soft potatoes when you taste them at home! This has also happened to me a number of times. Here's the only way I can think of to tell the difference before you waste your money: bite into one right in the store and damn the torpedoes - if it's ripe and sweet, back up your truck and take home the one with the bite out and lots more. If it tastes terrible, even though soft - ditch it discretely and make your escape...Chowhounds, is this ethical???

                              1. re: niki rothman

                                I'd ask the peach seller first, but I think there is no need to bite the peach to tell if it is (likely to be) good.