Originally from China, peaches need plenty of sun to ripen them. Yellow-fleshed, pink-fleshed and white-fleshed peaches (the sweetest of all) are all available. Some are cling peaches, which means the stone clings to the flesh.
Buy fragrant, firm-fleshed fruit that give slightly when gently squeezed in the palm of your hand, but avoid fruits that are too soft. Firm fruit will ripen at room temperature in a day or two.
May to September.
Peaches are best eaten raw and unpeeled. To cut in half, run a knife around the natural dimple and twist the two halves in opposite directions, then remove the stone. Add sliced to fruit salads, or chop and add to muffin and cake mixtures. If you want to peel peaches, use a knife to slit and peel away the skin, but if it won’t come away easily, immerse in boiling water for a few seconds then drain and peel. Peaches are delicious served with Champagne or puréed and served with prosecco to make the typically Venetian Bellini cocktail (to be truly authentic, use white-fleshed peaches for this). Poached peaches served with raspberries and ice cream make the classic Peach Melba, a dessert created in the late 19th century by the great French chef, Escoffier, in honour of the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. Try making a peach melba jelly, as twist on this French classic.
Keep peaches at room temperature until ripe, then eat within 2 days.