Peach season is upon us and I've already made it my personal mission to gobble up as many of these sweet stone fruits as I can fit in my belly. It seems there are more and more peach varieties every year and as for the best ones to buy, well, that all depends on just what you're looking for. Based on what's most available, here's what you need to know about the peaches you'll find at the market this summer.
The Tried-and-True Classic: Yellow Peaches
If you're a peach purist who craves that classic peachy flavor, yellow peaches are the ones for you. These peaches are juicy and sweet, although higher in acid than some other varieties, which leaves them with a little more of a tangy bite. You know them for their golden yellow-orange flesh and orangey-red blushed skin.
The Best for Easy Eating + Mild, Sweet Flavor: White Peaches
If yellow peaches are a little too acidic for you, it's time to pick up some white peaches. While they can certainly be used for other purposes, this sweet, mild variety is best for eating out of hand. White peaches are less acidic than their yellow counterparts, which leaves them tasting extra sweet and especially smooth and mellow. These peaches have a creamy pinkish-white flesh and yellow-orange skin.
The Best Peaches for Baking: Freestone Peaches
Color aside, peaches fall into three categories: freestone, clingstone, and the semi-freestone hybrid. The categorization all has to due with how the pit clings to the fruit's flesh.
Freestone peaches are those gems you bite or cut into and the pit falls right out. They can be yellow or white, and are the variety that's most commonly sold at grocery stores and farmers markets. If you're making a peach dessert that requires pitting a lot of fruit, like a pie, cobbler, or crumble, this variety feels like a godsend for how easy it is to remove the pit. They're also ideal for baking since they're typically a bit larger and less juicy than their clingstone counterparts.
The Best Peaches for Canning and Preserving: Clingstone Peaches
If preserved peaches or peach jam is in your future, clingstones are the best variety for the job. Unlike freestone peaches, clingstones contain a pit that clings to the fruit's flesh. While it takes a little more work to get the pit free, it's worth the effort. Clingstone peaches are typically smaller than freestones, but since they're softer and sweeter with juicier flesh, they're a good choice for canning and preserving. You'll have the best luck finding this variety at the farmers market; they can be tough to find at the grocery store.
The Sweetest (and Coolest-Looking) Peaches of the Bunch: Donut Peaches
Also known as Saturn peaches, we're into these flat, round peaches for their cool appearance and super-sweet flavor. Donut peaches aren't quite as juicy as the classic round peaches, and they skip the acidic bite of yellow peaches, but they rank high in sweetness, with a soft, tender bite. While they're ideal for eating out of hand, but they can also be used in cooking, baking, and drinks.