Mealy Peaches Are Peak Disappointment — How To Avoid Them This Summer
Ah, peaches — one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Once fresh peaches appear in the produce aisle, you grab a few and take them home. You can’t wait another minute to taste one, so you clean it and take a big bite, then… yuck. Despite being fresh from the grocery store and having no bruises, it’s dry and mealy. Nothing close to the juicy summertime treat you had your heart set on. Soft fruits like peaches can either be the most delicious fruits imaginable, or the most disappointing — their fragile flesh is susceptible to textural issues. The good news is that you can identify good fruit at the source. Want to avoid this seasonal heartbreak? Keep reading to banish mealy peaches from your life and learn how to identify the perfect peach at the store.
Why do peaches get mealy?
Mealiness — which is a gritty, stringy, juiceless texture — often occurs due to temperature fluctuations after harvest, according to Renegade Kitchen. When a peach is stored in a cold temperature before it is ripe, and then brought back to room temperature, it becomes mealy due to a change in the fruit’s cell wall structure and compounds. Certain cultivars of peaches are more prone to mealiness than others, says The Produce Nerd; but since peaches aren’t separated by type like apples, it’s hard to know what kind you’re getting in the produce aisle. The best way to identify a good peach is by investigating it for yourself.
How To Find the Perfect Peach
It’s time to put mealy fruit in your rearview mirror. Find the Platonic ideal of a peach, one that’s juicy, soft, and sweet, with these three professional tips. (Head’s up: You might have to spend more than a minute or two comparing peaches in the fruit aisle. If you’re afraid of being judged, don’t be; anyone who judges you on your pursuit of the perfect peach is not someone you need in your life, anyway.)
1. Shop smart.
Your grocery store may have some good peaches year-round, but you'll probably have better luck during peach season, which is between May and September. Look at local farmer’s markets or farmer stands, says Adventure Kitchen, since the fruit is probably fresher and doesn't have to travel as far. This leads to a lower chance of post-harvest mishandling.
2. Engage your senses.
You can use your senses to find a delicious peach. Well, maybe not your sense of hearing — but if your peach is making any sounds, you probably shouldn’t buy it anyway.
Sight: A good peach will be vibrantly colored, say the fruit pros at Stemilt. It should have a bright orange or yellow background color that’s mostly covered by a deep red blush. Avoid peaches with bruised or wrinkled skin. It should also have its stem still attached, since the stem works like a seal to keep its juices inside, according to Adventure Kitchen.
Smell: Sniff its stem end. If it doesn’t have a smell, it won’t have as much flavor, either, says Adventure Kitchen. If it smells delicious, buy it — that’s a good sign.
Touch: While some people find peach fuzz off-putting, fuzz might be a sign of minimal manhandling. You can get rid of the fuzz before you eat it by running your peach under cool water. Lightly press on the peach’s shoulders — the rounded parts near the stem. If it feels like packed sand, the peach is probably mealy, but if it has slight, bouncy give, like an avocado or fresh meat, it might be juicy.
3. Go big or go home.
Stemilt says that size can indicate sugar levels in peaches, so medium and large peaches are more likely to be sweet. A juicy peach will also be heavy for its size, says Adventure Kitchen, since liquid adds weight.
How To Store Peaches
Because peaches are sensitive to their environments, their texture and flavor can change if they aren’t stored properly. If you buy a good peach, and then store it wrong, you’ll be sorely disappointed when you take a bite.
If you buy peaches that aren’t fully ripened, it’s best to let them ripen completely on your counter at room temperature. If you want to speed up the ripening process, stick them in a paper bag (Buy from Amazon, $5.85 for 40). This helps trap ethylene gas, which helps the fruit ripen. Once they’re ripe, you can put them in the fridge; but keep them in a drawer, not in colder spots like the top shelf or the freezer.
What To Do With Mealy Peaches
Did you buy a whole bag of peaches, only to realize they’re all duds? Don’t throw them away. Use them to make this lazy peach cobbler, which only takes 10 minutes. Or you can whip up some homemade ice cream with a handy-dandy ice cream maker (Buy from Amazon, $69.95). You know what they say — when life gives you mealy peaches, make a delicious dessert.
Confident in your peach-hunting skills? May your summer be filled with all the best this season has to offer, including good peaches.