Together with apples, apricots, and pears, peach is part of the fruit-bearing trees in the Rosacea family.
Because of its delicious and nutrient-rich fruits, it’s easy to see why it is one of the most grown fruit trees.
Yet, to enjoy its refreshing flavor, you’ll have to know when is the best time to harvest the fruits.
When to harvest peaches? Depending on the cultivar, peaches are harvested from late June to August. Once the immature green peaches start turning yellow, you will know they are nearing their maturity and that you’re only days away from harvest time.
How Do You Know When Your Peaches Are Ready to Harvest?
Most of your peaches will ripen at the same time, but some will reach their maturity first before others.
These are usually the fruits at the ends of the peach tree’s branches or those that get the most sun exposure.
Unlike store-bought peaches, a freshly picked peach is a lot tastier and sweeter.
The problem is, you can only experience this if you harvest them at their peak, which is not always easy to recognize.
To help you out, here are several indicators to look out for:
When trying to figure out if peaches are ready to pick, your best bet is to use and trust your senses.
A ripe peach has a uniquely sweet aroma, which is what experienced peach growers rely on to know if their peaches are ripe enough for picking.
In fact, you’d be able to identify if a peach tree has ripe fruits even from afar based on this smell.
This is especially true on a warm sunny day.
You can expect the trees to have the delightful sweet scent of ripe peaches, luring to come closer.
Slightly Soft to the Touch
Aside from its smell, you can also check if a peach is mature enough for harvest through touch.
While unripe peaches are firm and hard, ripe peaches are slightly soft to the touch.
For this, we recommend testing the firmness of the peach while it still hangs from the tree.
If the peaches are still hard when you squeeze them, they are still unripe and need more time to ripen.
Vibrant Dark Yellow Color
On top of the smell and firmness, another indicator of ripeness is the peach’s color.
You can tell if a peach is ripe through sight, as ripe peaches have a vibrant dark yellow color.
It’s not necessarily red because the red tint comes from direct sun exposure.
As mentioned, unripe peaches are green, so there shouldn’t be any hint of green on their skin during harvest.
If you see any green undertones or even greenish hints, leave the fruit to ripen on the tree for a few more days.
You can check for ripeness by smell, touch, and sight, but perhaps the most accurate indicator is how your peaches taste.
Picking and taking a bite from one will erase all doubts about whether or not your peaches are ready to pick.
Obviously, if it lacks the sweetness you expect from a ripe peach, give it a little more time to ripen.
It shouldn’t be crunchy, too, so come back a few days later to check again.
How sweet the fruits are might be subjective, but you should be able to tell if they are the right sweetness.
Again, the key to recognizing if a peach is ripe is to use and trust your senses.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Peaches?
There’s no denying that ripe peaches are a delight. Not only that, but they are also nutritious and sweet.
To enjoy the fruits of your labor, you’ll want to pick them as soon as they ripen.
What happens if you don’t harvest them on time, though?
Even if you do harvest peaches before their peak, they will continue to ripen off the tree.
Some also like the taste of unripe peaches, which they believe target a couple of gastric issues.
Then again, like all fruits, unpicked peaches will become overripe if left on the tree for too long.
How to Harvest Peaches?
By now, you should be confident enough to tell if a peach is already ripe for harvest.
The next step is learning how to pick the fruits correctly. For that, here is our tried-and-tested guide:
Step 1: Ready your bag and gloves.
Unlike other fruits, you don’t need a lot of complicated tools to harvest peaches.
You will want to be picking them by hand, so all you’ll need is a basket to put the harvest in and a pair of gloves.
Peaches aren’t as firm as other fruits, which is why you must be careful not to bruise them.
Step 2: Start picking.
Peaches can be a bit tricky to pick. Some do not just snap off the branch, while others get damaged if you pick them carelessly.
Because of this, what you can do instead of pulling is to wiggle the fruit back and forth, looking for its weak point.
Once you find that weak point, go ahead and snap the peach off the branch and enjoy the sound.
You’ll find the majority are alone and can be picked easily. However, some will be what is called “doubles.” They are basically peaches next to each other.
Again, you must be very careful not to bruise doubles because they are harder to pick.
Peaches are very often caught in between branches.
What’s more, some branches will poke into the fruit while harvesting, so also watch out for that.
Step 3: Rinse.
For abundant harvests, ones where you cannot consume everything in a week or so, you can rinse some of your peaches in ice water.
Dong this will stop any further ripening and will hopefully prolong the fruit’s shelf life.
Should You Wash Peaches After Harvesting?
Only wash clean peaches when you’re ready to peel and consume them.
Depending on their current state of ripeness, there are several other ways to store peaches.
If it happens that you have harvested unripe peaches, you should wait until they are perfectly ripe.
Fortunately, you can easily ripen peaches by storing them in a clean, dry place.
When sitting the peaches, make sure they are on their shoulders, which is the side where you cut the stem.
For ripe peaches, you can put them in the fridge to make them last longer.
You’ll want to check the quality of your peaches every day, as putting them in the fridge will dehydrate the fruits.
Obviously, it would be best to consume them before they become dehydrated.
Can You Eat Peaches Immediately After Harvesting?
The ways to enjoy your freshly picked peaches are endless.
However, ask any peach grower, and you’ll know that the best way to enjoy them is eating them right after picking.
You can also drink it by tossing it into your blender with some milk or yogurt and ice, or slice it up and add it to your cereal for breakfast.
Then again, there’s no way you’d be able to consume your harvest in one seating.
In that case, you should learn the many delicious ways to preserve them, such as turning them into jam.
How to Make Peach Jam
Making peach jam is actually pretty straightforward.
Plus, you will only need four ingredients: fresh ripe peaches, lemon juice, lemon zest for extra flavor, and white sugar.
Step 1: Blanch the peaches.
Boil a pot of water and put the ripe peaches in it. Allow them to sit in it for a minute.
Step 2: Give them an ice bath.
Remove the peaches from boiling water and put them in cold water (preferably with ice) for another minute.
It is crucial not to over soak your peaches.
Step 3: Remove the skin and slice.
After the ice bath, peel off the skin and slice up your peaches. Don’t forget to remove the pits and the seeds, too.
Step 4: Start cooking.
Next, get a big-bottomed pot and put your peach slices. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest as well.
Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once soft, use a spoon or a spatula to crush the peaches.
Afterward, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. At this point, you may notice your peaches have considerably become smaller in size.
Reduce the heat to low to medium and continue to cook for 40 to 60 minutes as the jam needs more time to thicken.
You will know that your jam is ready when it sticks to the spoon when you hold it up.
If it runs right off the spoon, continue cooking until it reaches the desired consistency.
Step 8: Let the jam cool down.
Lastly, turn off the stove and let the jam cool completely.
You may serve it immediately or rest it for at least a week to achieve its finished set.
Are Peaches Worth Growing?
Like other fruits from the Rosacea family, peaches are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K.
They also boast a high fiber content, aiding digestion and lowering the risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure.
Indeed, there’s no denying its many health benefits.
To top it all off, they are self-fertile, so growing even one tree will guarantee fruit production.