With peach season nearly upon us, it's time to finally answer the question that crosses my mind every year: Why are peaches coated with a soft fuzz? If you've ever eaten a fresh peach, I'm sure you've wondered the same. It's time to finally put your curiosity to rest, because I have the answer for you.
Fuzzy Skin Adds a Layer of Protection
While there isn't one proven reason for exactly why peaches have fuzzy skin, there are a few very credible theories that point to the outer fuzzy coating as an added layer of protection. It's thought to be a defense mechanism that protects the peach's very delicate skin against excess moisture and bugs.
Because peaches have extremely thin skin, exposure to excessive amounts of moisture from rainfall and dew can cause premature rot. Those fuzzy hairs won't shield the fruit from heavy rainfall, but they're helpful with light rain and dew, holding smaller droplets of water and preventing them from settling on the vulnerable skin of the fruit.
While it doesn't keep all insect life at bay, the fuzzy skin on peaches is also thought to protect against little critters since it acts as an irritant to certain insects.
Have you ever noticed that the peaches from most farm stands and farmers markets have significantly more fuzz than the ones you get at the grocery store? It's not a fluke. Much of the excess fuzz can be removed by washing or with with gentle brushes or wet knives, and is often done before shipping commercially sold peaches.
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Get Past the Fuzz
Not a fan of the fuzz? You're not alone, and there are a couple ways to still get your fill of sweet summer stone fruit. Peeling away peach skin is really easy; it's a small price to pay for the joy of biting into a ripe, juicy peach just the way you like it. Alternatively, reach for a nectarine instead. You won't find fuzz on these stone fruits, which are nearly genetically identical to peaches. The gene variation that sets the two apart accounts for the difference in skin.