It feels like over the years, peaches have really lost their flavor. So many people remember the fruit being so juicy it caused a huge mess while they were kids, but nowadays it feels like they’ve all gotten dry, mealy, and rock-hard. Even some homegrown peaches seem to have lost their sweet juiciness, not just those purchased at a big supermarket.
There are reasons why peaches have become tasteless, and big corporations are not the only ones to blame. In fact, the distance between the orchard and the store has little to do with their overall quality. Keep reading to find out just what’s ruining those otherwise perfect peaches.
They are Kept in Inappropriate Temperatures
The biggest reason for a poor tasting peach is the temperature that it is kept in at any point during its life. Anything ranging from 36-50°F is considered a “killing zone” for a peach and will cause it to start breaking down just like a banana. Where it has become common knowledge to not put a banana in the fridge, peaches have not quite made it there yet.
In order to successfully transport a peach long distance, they need to be kept at a temperature range above freezing but below 36°F and then left at room temperature environments to finish ripening. After the fruit is picked or purchased, it should be left out instead of in the refrigerator or it will cause it to lose sweetness.
They are Not Fully Ripened
There is a big mistake most consumers and new growers make when selecting a peach. They almost always will go for the biggest, smoothest, reddest, hardest peach of the batch as if it were an apple. Peaches like that are not typically fully ripened.
A ripe peach is slightly soft and very aromatic, much like how a pineapple is when it’s ripe. The background color should be almost golden with no trace of green whatsoever. If a peach that’s too hard and not smelly enough is brought home, sticking it in a loosely closed paper bag will help it ripen to maximum juicy sweetness over the course of a day or so.
They Have Been Improperly Handled
Peaches are very soft fruits that bruise extremely easily. Big corporations using a lot of machinery and then transporting them long distances risk damaging a peach. Then some stores will put their peaches into the cold produce section to which the consumer will then put them into their fridge, all of which are bad ideas.
They really do best if they have been hand picked and carried carefully, but not so carefully it’s like carrying an old glass Christmas ornament. That’s why it feels like locally grown or garden grown peaches taste better, they were simply handled nicer!
They Have Been Bred for Eye-Appeal Rather Than Taste
Consumers have gotten it into their heads to select a peach in a way that is like selecting an apple. Therefore, the smaller, softer, and fuzzier peaches end up getting left behind to rot in a store and cost them money. A store losing money will mean that they will stop paying the supplier as much.
That means that the supplier is going to try and make products, in this case a whole bunch of peaches, that are grown to the point of looking and feeling like an apple. Since that’s what is all around and seems to be the ideal, that is what people do with their own homegrown peaches, or they even select a tree that has been bred to produce these fruits instead of an heirloom variety.
The Tree Was Grown in Poor Conditions
Peach trees are a subtropical plant, meaning they’re going to do best in hardiness zones 5-8. Trying to grow one of these trees outside of that while not being one of the specially bred varieties that can withstand such temperatures is going to lead to some subpar peaches, if they grow at all.
Not to mention, the alkaline levels of the soil affect how the peach tree grows. Too much will cause the peaches to become bitter and hard. Finally, most fruit trees, including peaches, should be grown in pairs in order to promote cross-pollination unless they are self-pollinating varieties. Promoting pollinators and properly fertilizing trees in the proper hardiness zones really helps ensure delicious peaches.
How to Pick a Great Tasting Peach
A lot of a peach’s quality comes from how they were grown and how they were handled before they’re eaten. Not to mention, the biggest, reddest, hardest peaches are misbelieved to be better, when in reality, the smaller, softer, more golden peaches are going to be tastier.
Additionally, the perfect peach is going to have a slight smell to it. If there’s not really a smell to the peach, it’s not ripe enough! Many stores keep under-ripe peaches in order to preserve their shelf life, so if worst comes to worst, packing them in a loosely closed paper bag will help ripen them to their peak. Never put them into the fridge, it will make them too cold and ruin their flavor!
Regardless of whether a peach is bought from a big chain store, locally sourced from a nearby orchard, or picked from the tree in the backyard, a peach is a peach. The flavor has a lot to do with how it’s been handled up to the point of consumption as they are soft, easily bruised fruits that do not do well in temperatures between 36-50°F and should not be stored in those temperatures.
There’s also the issue where most consumers treat a peach as if it were an apple, wanting the biggest, brightest, smoothest, reddest peach in the bunch so suppliers try to make sure those are what are available. Instead, look for smaller, slightly soft, aromatic peaches that are slightly golden and a little fuzzy to ensure a perfect peach.
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