3 Signs Peaches and Plums Are Ripe and Ready to Eat

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Erika Tracy)

At a farmers market in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this summer, I was so excited to catch my first glimpse of the season’s peaches that I started to buy as many as I could. When I approached the farmer to pay for my haul, he quickly pulled out a handful, set them back in the crate, and replaced them with others he picked out. “Those weren’t ready yet,” he said. After a little cajoling, he shared three important signs that peaches (and other stone fruit) are ready to eat.

1. Check the color.

Peaches should have a dark yellow color, with or without red spots, which come from direct sun contact. Plums should also have a deep, even color, whichever variety they are. A light color means they aren’t ready and any glimpse of green means the fruit was picked too early.

2. Give it a smell.

The stone fruit should smell like, well, fruit! There should be a sweet, fruity aroma wafting from your peaches and plums. No smell usually means no taste for most varieties.

3. Give it a (gentle) squeeze.

Don’t be the person who goes around squeezing and bruising the whole crate of peaches, but a gentle touch can determine ripeness. The fruit should have a little give to it, while the skin is smooth and free of wrinkles. The fruit should also feel a little heavy for its size in your hand.

What are your tips for picking a good peach?