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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...
OK...got 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.

                            3. Indeed, I've never seen a hard peach get ripe. Pretty much have to pick a good one and eat w/i 24 hours or it's not worth it, IMO. It's a shame but cooking with hard peaches is one of the only ways to make them useable. Oddly enough, grilling hard peaches work.

                              1. Nope. Buy peaches that are ripe. Cook/ bake w/ the others. Ripe = pick it up, press very, very gently at the stem end only. Does it give a little? Try two spots. Someone may have bruised it and you're getting give on the bruise. Is there green on the peach? No. Stop. Put it down. Back away from the peach. Exception: a known heirloom. The farmer is standing right there and says, "This is an heirloom peach and it will indeed ripen and lose that green color." Know your peach vendor. Look them in the eye if possible.

                                Some people go by smell. Does it smell peachy? Peachy. I don't trust smell. It's a feel thing. Oh, and if that peach isn't heavy it isn't juicy.

                                Together we can buy and eat only delicious peaches!

                                PS. Please don't refrigerate your peaches

                                1. Hmm, well, I'd have to say there are different types of "unripe" when it comes to peaches. I live in South Carolina, so I am fortunate to have access to local peaches throughout the warm months (it annoys me no end that I still see California peaches in the super market!). The local peaches I buy are definitely not green, but neither are they usually ready to eat as soon as I bring them home. It usually takes a day or two to reach that stage. The difference, I think, between the peaches I can get and those available in "non-peachy" areas of the country is that mine are picked at the verge of ripeness, transported only a short distance, and never refrigerated. That makes a big difference.

                                  1. I believe I read this on a previous thread.....I've tried it and it worked for me.


                                    1. I bought a box of 10 Colorado peaches at Trader Joe's Brooklyn store last Saturday because they smelled so good. They were firm but delicious on Sunday, and got softer and even better over the couple of days I left them on the kitchen table in their box and plastic lower packaging at warmish room temperature. The last one went into the fridge last night because I was afraid it would go west. These are some of the best peaches I've laid hands on in New York. I've only ever ripened peaches at room temp, in their original packaging if possible - picking them over and using them as they soften - oh for a 6 quart basket of Ontario peaches right now.

                                      1. got a box of o'henry's from Costco. took them home and they are all mealy. What a waste. Threw them all away

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Soup

                                          Where were they grown? I have never had luck with California peaches, even when I lived there. They must grow some but in my experience the ones in general distribution (not talking about farmer's markets here) are not good.

                                        2. Several posters have stated categorically that peaches do not ripen or that their sweetness levels do not change after they have been picked.

                                          Are these just opinions based on personal experience, or have there been formal studies that support these assertions?

                                          Studies recently published in the Journal of Experimental Botany show that various sugar levels continue to change (with rises in fructose levels) in peaches after harvesting.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: racer x

                                            Subjectively speaking they do indeed get sweeter as they sit. It would make sense since they are climacteric fruits.

                                          2. This is an old thread, but my family just picked some peaches from a local orchard, as they do every year, and I remember in the past the orchard owner had told us to cover them lightly for a couple days if they aren't quite as sweet as we wanted. I did some checking on the internet and came across this info from an article put out by the California Fruit Tree Agreement:

                                            "The peaches, plums and nectarines I find at the store aren't as soft as I'd like. Is it okay to buy firm fruit? Can it ripen successfully?
                                            -Yes, it's perfectly okay to buy firm fruit. It's simple to ripen it to the softness you prefer.

                                            "What's the best way to ripen California peaches, plums and nectarines?
                                            -To ripen fruit, place it in a fruit bowl or in a paper bag with the top folded over, at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Check it at least once a day. When the fruit reaches your preferred texture, either use it or place it in the refrigerator to stop further ripening. Don't place too-firm fruit in the refrigerator — it won't continue to ripen there.

                                            "When ripening fruit, should I add an apple, banana or a riper piece of fruit to help it ripen?
                                            -No, an apple, banana or a riper piece of fruit isn't needed. The peaches, plums and nectarines themselves release enough natural ethylene gas to ripen successfully.

                                            "Can peaches, plums and nectarines get sweeter-tasting once they've been harvested?
                                            -Yes, peaches, plums and nectarines can get sweeter-tasting after they've been harvested. While the fruit only increases in sugar content while it's on the tree, the amount of sugar is only one part of what makes fruit taste sweet. As peaches, plums and nectarines ripen, the fruit's acid level drops. With less acid present, the fruit's sweetness can then be tasted. At the same time, the fruit's cells fill with juice as the cell walls become more fragile, making the fruit soft and juicy. The amount of sugar is exactly the same when the fruit is soft and juicy as when the fruit was firm and tart — but with less tartness, the fruit tastes sweeter."

                                            I've tried a couple peaches out of the batch that was picked today. Some were definitely more ripe than others. In my experience I've found the more intense the peach smells, the riper it is. I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago and walked past a display of California nectarines. Normally I wouldn't bother with them, but I could smell them from several feet away so I decided to chance buying a couple, and they were great. It's such a delicate balance with peaches, we picked some Early Red Havens a couple weeks ago, and they were very ripe on the tree, but by the time we got them home, about 20 minutes away, they had developed huge bruise spots just from where we had touched them and where they had touched the box.

                                            1. leave them together and do not put them in the refrigerator until they are as close to ready as you're willing to wait

                                              1. Yes, I found this web site through google which I put in "the best way to ripen peaches". The Tall Clover Farm web site actually has the best ripening idea--I have tried their methods a couple years and every time I get the best ripened peaches--no green peaches and no mealy peaches--Just ripe and juicy peaches--ready for you to can or eat--the best! Paper bags just don't work for me.

                                                1. For all stone fruits - the paper bag method works very well. Yu actually do not need the apple. Just remember to check each day as they will go from ripe to rotten very quickly. You need to get them into the refrigerator as soon as they are ripe.

                                                  And Kitchen Imp's explanation is exactly right.

                                                  1. The best way to know if a peach has got / will have good peach flavor and juicy is to look for the crack. The deeper the indention, the sweeter the peach. I know it sounds crazy but it is a fool proof trick! Don't leave the peaches on the window sill, just dries them out. Place un-washed, un-cut peaches in a brown paper sack with either a cut apple or banana peel, close the bag and place in a dark place (kitchen cabinets, pantry, etc) check after a couple of days.