Eating a fresh, juicy peach is summer rite of passage. They reach their peak season in July and August, and while peaches are a perfect snack on their own, they also make stellar additions to fresh salads and savory recipes. And let's not forget their role desserts: From starring atop a pavlova, adding a burst of sweet acidity to an easy, creamy tart, or serving as the comforting foundation to a classic crumble, peaches really can do it all. Here's how to get your peaches prepped and ready for whatever you decide to make.
First, check the recipe to see if the peach needs to be peeled. Then, stabilize your cutting board by placing a damp paper towel or a piece of rubber shelf liner underneath of it so it won't slip around while you're trying to cut. Starting at the stem, use a sharp paring knife to cut the peach in half, rotating the peach as needed to slice the whole length of the fruit. Similar to cutting open an avocado, you should feel your knife hit the pit, but you don't want to cut through it.
What happens next depends on what type of peach you have: a freestone or a clingstone. Most peaches at the supermarket are freestone, and they tend to be larger in size with a pit that comes out easily. To test if you have a freestone, pick up the peach and gently twist the two cut halves open. If the peach opens right up, you're most likely working with a freestone. You can try to pluck the pit out with your fingers or use a small spoon to remove it.
Clingstone peaches, on the other hand, have a smaller, more stubborn pit that you'll need to cut around. At this point you have already cut the peach in half. Starting at the incision you have already made, rotate the peach about 45 degrees on your cutting board and make another slice around the entire fruit. Continue to rotate and slice until you have eight even cuts. Gently grip the top of the peach and carefully slice each segment in a downward motion to remove the wedges from the pit.