© Denzil Green
Freestone peaches separate easily from the pit. Clingstone peaches, which don't separate easily, are now in some parts being called "semi-freestone", just because it sounds better. If producers had their way, we'd be eating more clingstones, as they are easier to ship.
Peaches are now given a shave before they arrive in North American supermarkets. The peach fuzz is removed with brushes, then washed off with water.
When buying, check the stem to see that it is not green -- you want to see a colour such as yellow or white. This is a better indication of ripeness than a nice rosy blush on the sides. The amount of rosy blush actually indicates the variety, not the ripeness. Size makes no difference to taste. And finally, give it a sniff to see if it has developed a fragrance yet.
If you need to peel a lot of peaches, get a large pot of boiling water, and plunge them into the water for 30 to 60 seconds first. Remove from the water, and plunge into a sink or large bowl of cold water. The skins should now pull off when you tug at them with a paring knife.
Peaches are related to almonds, and in some cheaper brands of ground almonds, some peach kernels will actually be used. However, peach kernels are mildly toxic. This toxicity is treated in the commercial processing to make them safe, so don't try this at home; discard.
1 pound (450g) Peaches = 4 medium Peaches = 2-3/4 cups sliced = 2-1/4 cups chopped
2 halves of canned, drained Peaches = 4 oz = 115g
1/2 cup of canned, drained Peach pieces or quarters = 4 oz = 115g
1 fresh Peach = 4 oz = 115g
1/2 cup frozen Peach pieces or quarters = 4 oz = 115g
350 g (12 oz) fresh whole peaches = approx. 250 ml / 1 cup of canned peach slices = 1 cup of mashed peaches
If they aren't ripe yet and you want to ripen them in a hurry, put them in a paper bag. This will get them softer and juicier, but they won't sweeten any more than they are.
Or, place stem-side down on a cotton tea towel, not touching each other, cover with another cotton tea towel, and let ripen for several days up to a week. Some say they will actually sweeten this way.
See here for home canning directions for peaches.
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