How to choose the perfect peach

I was recently asked to write an article for Edible Toronto on a seasonal fruit of my choice. With peaches about to burst into full flavour, they were the hands down winner.


There are many different ways to preserve peaches, three types of peaches to choose from—freestone, semi-freestone, and clingstone—and numerous varieties within each type.

All are delicious, but when it comes to preserving you will want to keep your eyes open for freestone peaches, the flesh of which separates easily from the pit making it simpler to preserve whole or even in pieces. And if you quickly blanch your peaches in hot water and then plunge them into ice water, the skin of a nice ripe peach will fall away easily in large pieces, making your work that much easier.

I often get asked how to determine when a peach is ready to get made into jam or to be preserved in general. There are a couple of things to keep in mind as well as look out for, and some are more obvious than others.

For me, I always start with smell. Don’t be afraid to pick up a fruit at a market or a store and give it the good old-fashioned sniff test. With most peaches, it should smell just like that first bite into the perfect peach tastes—sweet and delicious. If there is no obvious peach aroma, then there is a high probability that there will be no strong peachy taste. 

Keep in mind that this is not true for all varieties of peaches, so be sure to ask questions if you are ever in doubt.

Pay additional attention to the skin and weight of the peach. A nice, ripe peach should feel surprisingly heavy and dense for its size. (Mealy peaches tend to feel lighter in weight.) If the skin is wrinkled or puckered, put that peach right back down because it means it is dehydrated. If the peach is hard, that means it is unripe, but the great thing about peaches is that they will continue to ripen nicely off the tree. Just be sure to lay them out separately and not pile them up in a bowl where their weight could cause those on the bottom to bruise.

I always say that what goes into the jar comes out of the jar, meaning that you want to put the best possible quality of fruit into your preserves. Pass over peaches that are overly bruised or flattened. And if you end up with a peach with a mealy consistency it simply means that it was most likely picked when it was very green and then refrigerated for transport.

To read the full article and to check out some other amazing stories, click here for the online version.

Preserved Peaches and Peach Mango Chutney

I always look forward to my preserving classes at The Depanneur but next Monday's class is really blowing my skirt up. You see I LOVE peaches and I mean LOVE. For many varied reasons.

I could start with the fact that I HATE and I mean HATE winter. Having those jars of golden peachy preserved goodness stacked on my shelves in the basement makes me feel like I have somehow managed to trap a little bit of summer inside each and every jar. And when the snow is falling or the wind is whipping or even when it is dark at 4pm, I know I can crack open a jar and magically be transported mentally back to the middle of August.

The next reason is grounded squarely in nostalgia. My mom used to preserve a lot when I was growing up. But her two, knock it out of the park items were raspberry jam and preserved peaches. So each time I open a jar of preserved peaches it is like she is right there with me. Funny how something as simple as a flavour can bring back a wash of wonderful memories.

And then there is the wonderfulness of the smoky peach chutney we are going to be stirring up. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

If this all sounds intriguing, you are just a click away from learning more about the class.

Peach Preserves vs Peaches in a Light Syrup


Inquiring minds wanted to know. Well that might be an overstatement so let me rephrase. An inquiring mind wanted to know and that mind was me! What did I want to know, you ask? It’s simple. After years of putting up peaches in a light syrup to carry me through the winter, I wondered if there was a recipe out there that could top my current ‘go to’ recipe for peaches. It wasn’t that I was tired of the favourite peaches. It’s not like I was going to cheat on them so stop judging me. I was just curious…and I had a bushel of peaches fresh from the farmer’s market staring up at me from their wooden box.

I scoured some preserving cook books, checked out some of my favourite blogs and shortlisted it to three different recipes, made all 3 and personally chose one that was different enough but delicious enough to be a contender for my taste testers to put through the paces.

But before I get into the results let me tell you a bit about each recipe. The Peaches in a Light Syrup are quite simply peach slices in a very light sugar syrup. When you open the jar you get the fresh sweet smell of natural peaches. The colour is light and clear and the flavour is pure peach. The Preserved Peaches are different in that you let the peach slices macerate before you preserve them so the peach slices and the sugar get all juicy together. The addition of pectin to this recipe makes the syrup slightly thicker and to be honest there is just simply more sugar. The colour is bold and rich and the flavour is deep and rich but not as ‘peachy’. NOTE: I did not include the cinnamon or the almond extract as I wanted the peach flavour to stand on it's own.

Photo: On my "To Do" list today is to do my taste testing for Manning Canning preserves by Christine Manning. Nice work if you can get it yes?

photo credit: Nancy Lismer

I delivered a jar of both to each taste tester alongside a little questionnaire. Now not all of the results are in but there were some clear lines in the results that I will share with you now and they seemed to revolve around sweetness. If you like a sweeter product, the Preserved Peached are for you. The comments listed in the box below are highlights from some of the taste testers. Check it out.


Preserved Peaches

Peaches Preserved in Syrup


LOVED the texture, thick, rich and syrupy. Because of the thickness the flavour lingered longer. It flirted on the palette

Peaches were still nice and firm so they didn’t fall apart


If you like sweet – that average rating came in between 8.5 and 9

For those taste testers who like a product that is less sugar-y the peaches in light syrup rocked a score of 10


9.5 – 10 (by those who liked and disliked the sweetness level)

3 - 6.5


All parties seemed to agree that this preserve would be great on ice cream or served as a desert. A suggestion came through that you could drizzle the juice on a pork chop and serve the peaches on the side.

Excellent for breakfast with yogourt or granola. Or as a key ingredient in a cocktail with sparkling wine

What would you tell someone about this product

The colour is gorgeous. Has a wonderful smoothness from a flavour and texture perspective. The syrup alone is so good and then you bite into the peach and the flavours just explode

It’s like a taste of summer in a jar.

 Taste testers - are you ready for your next delivery?