Ah, common sense. The ultimate tool in anyone’s arsenal, and yet the one that is the most under utilized. Let’s change that.
I related a story in a recently posted recipe about how a woman kept chopping off the end of a roast because that what it said to do in her grandmother’s recipe, only to find out that her grandmother only did so because her roasting pan was too small. The same kind of logic seems to apply to peeling peaches.
If you’ve done any cooking with peaches, you have probably heard and even followed the “tried and true” method of blanching the peaches in boiling water then plunging them in an ice bath to get the skins off. Maybe it’s worked for you. Lucky you.
I have two issues with this method. The first is that “they” always tell you to put the whole peach in the boiling water, then peel the skin off once it has cooled. Ummm… how do you get the pit out, then? Grappling with a semi-cooked, skinned peach to slice and twist to release the pit is about as fun (and easy) as holding a wriggling eel so you can kiss it. The other is the fact that you cook your peaches, boil them in fact. Even if only for half a minute, the peach still gets cooked and depending on what it’s age status was in advance, could turn to mush. Neither of these situations is pleasant.
This is all assuming the process will even work, and trust me, it is in no way a guarantee. Some peach varieties have skins that don’t easily come off, and if a peach wasn’t fully ripe when picked the skin might just stick. So why not try a method that actually will work without wasting your time and ruining your product? Huh, what a thought.
Your first step is to rinse as much loose fuzz as you can so you don’t get it all over the fruit because it can be quite irritating. This is probably not an issue for peaches bought at the store, but more so for homegrown. Next is to cut the peach in half, and do so the right way. The groove along the edge of the peach follows the edge of the pit. Cut along that edge (it’s the same as for cutting and pitting plums). If your peach is a “free stone” variety, you can twist the two halves in opposite directions and they should separate easily. If it is a “cling stone”, the two halves might require a little assistance getting pulled apart. See my post on pitting plums, as the process will be much the same to get the pit out.
The peeling part is next. If the peach is fully ripe, you may be able to peel the skin right off. Slightly stubborn spots can be helped along by lightly scraping with the edge of a knife to loosen an edge and then peel it away. However, the best tool for skin that refuses to come loose on its own is a good ol’ vegetable peeler. Use a good sharp one and a “light hand”. These are peaches, not potatoes, so don’t beat them up. You might be proclaiming that it will take too much of the flesh with it, and yes, some will get stuck to the skin. However, I have had far more flesh torn away with skin that refused to come loose even after several minutes in the boiling water. And, hey, your peaches stay fresh, not cooked. Now you have peeled peaches ready for a simple fruit salad, or baked into goodies, or even stored away in the freezer for later use. If you do any food dehydrating, the fresh peaches produce a superior product than the cooked, too.