Freestone Peaches vs. Clingstone: What’s the Difference?

updated Aug 5, 2022
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As you’re stocking up on peaches this summer, you’ve got some choices to make. Whether you’ve got your sights set on tangy yellow peaches or the more mild white ones, they all fall into two broad categories: freestone and clingstone peaches.

There’s a distinct quality that sets these peach varieties apart, and once you know what it is, you’ll know exactly the type of peach you’re cutting into and what works best for specific dishes. Freestone peaches are easy to remove from the pit and are ideal for eating out of hand, while clingstones have a harder-to-remove pit but a slightly sweeter taste and are great for canning.

The Difference Between Freestone and Clingstone Peaches

All peaches are categorized by the relationship between the fruit’s flesh and pit or stone. As the names subtly imply, the difference between freestone peaches and clingstone peaches is how much the fruit’s flesh clings to the pit. Freestone peaches have fruit that easily pulls away from the pit, while clingstone peach flesh stubbornly clings to the pit.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

More About Freestone Peaches

Freestone peaches are a joy to eat out of hand, not only because they’re sweet and juicy, but because the pit is so easily removed. In fact, when cut in half, the pit will often fall right out of a freestone peach. You’ll find freestone peaches in many varieties, including both the yellow variety and white one.

While they might not be labeled as freestone, this is the variety that is widely available in grocery stores and farmers markets. Freestone peaches can sometimes be slightly larger than clingstone, and are wonderful eaten out of hand or used for cooking, baking, canning, and the peaches also freeze well.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

More About Clingstone Peaches

Conversely, clingstone peaches have a pit that is well-attached to the flesh and does not easily fall out. Like freestones, clingstone peaches are available in many varieties, most notably yellow and white. You’re not likely to find clingstone peaches in the grocery store; the best place to track them down is at the farmers market.

These peaches are typically a bit smaller, juicier, and slightly sweeter than freestone peaches, which makes them ideal candidates for canning and preserving. Fun fact: Most all commercially sold canned peaches are clingstones.

Semi-Freestone Are a Little Bit of Both

There’s also a third hybrid variety that combines qualities of both freestone and clingstone peaches: semi-freestone. These peaches have a pit that’s easy to remove (like a freestone) with the juicy sweetness of a clingstone.

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