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When to Pick Peaches

Who doesn’t love the taste of fresh, juicy peaches? But it is difficult to know when to pick peaches to ensure they are ripe enough.

Man holding a box of harvested peaches. Knowing when to pick peaches is important for enjoying peaches at their best.

It can be hard to know the signs to look for that indicate your peaches are ready for harvesting and consumption. Especially when there are so many different varieties.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the different methods and techniques to help you figure out when to pick peaches. As well as some quick tips on storing them.


How to Know When to Harvest Peaches

No one likes when they pull a fresh peach off the tree, expecting the sweet juice to roll down your throat. Then to be left with the bitter taste of disappointment when you realize your peach still isn’t ripe.

Although there are wide varieties of peaches, they all have similar indicators of ripeness.

Knowing when to pick peaches is the most important aspect of growing/harvesting from your own tree.

Did you know that the sugar content of peaches goes up the longer it’s left on the tree? But you don’t want to pick it too late, or it will become over-ripe. So, knowing the perfect sweet spot between unripe and overripe is an important tool for knowing when to pick peaches.

Color

One indicator of when to harvest peaches is their color.

Closeup of peaches on a tree.

Peaches have an undertone of green. So, when they are unripe, instead of the beautiful orangey-red color, you’ll see a dull greenish hew.

If you’re getting ready to harvest and notice even the slightest hint of green, they aren’t ready yet.

Also, as a quick note, some varieties of peaches may appear redder or more orange. So make sure you know what variety you are growing and what color a ripe peach will look like.

Smell

Peaches have a very distinct smell. It’s sweet and lingering, making it hard to miss. But some varieties won’t be as intense.

If you’re using smell to indicate when to harvest peaches, just because you don’t smell them right away doesn’t mean they aren’t ripe. You may just have to get closer.

Touch

If you’ve never felt an unripe peach before, I recommend touching one when you see your peaches start to grow.

Person squeezing a peach on a tree.

They’ll feel hard, with no give when you wrap your hands around them.

One sign they’re ripe is when you gently squeeze them, you’ll feel a slight give, indicating that your peach is ready for harvest and will be juicy.

Birds

You read that right; birds can tell you when to pick peaches. Birds are just like you when it comes to fruit. They love the sweet taste of ripe fruit.

If you see a lot of birds around your tree, it means your fruit is ready for harvesting or close to it. You’ll want to start checking for ripe fruit daily around this time.

When you do start harvesting your peaches, make sure that you double-check for bird nests.

A quick tip on keeping the birds from eating all the ripe fruit is the use of bird netting. However, it’s important to research before using it. This is so you can protect your harvest and make it a safe deterrent for the birds.

Time of Year

The time of year is a great indicator of when to pick peaches. But this is something that will come to you over the years. Your peaches will be ready for harvest around the same time every year. This is unless unforeseen weather messes with the usual harvest timeline.

Shape

You read that right. The shape of the fruit can tell you when to harvest peaches. As peaches mature, they start to grow rounder and plumper.


What if You Harvest Peaches Too Soon?

Peaches are forgiving, even if you harvest them a little too early.

Let’s say you harvest peaches and take them into the house. You take a bite of those fresh, sweet peaches and find they are still a little too hard and not as juicy as you would like. This is not a problem.

All you’ll have to do is leave them at room temperature and check them every day until they have a nice little give.

Closeup of peaches in a wooden box.

You can also place your peach in a brown bag and leave it on the counter to help them ripen quicker.


Storing Peaches

Now that you know when to pick peaches, you’ll probably want to know the best way to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

Apply Lemon Juice

I know that it might sound like a strange thing to do. Lemon juice contains acid that inactivates the enzymes that discolor fruit, meaning your peaches won’t brown as quickly.

You can put the lemon juice directly on the skin or cut up your peaches and submerge them in a mixture of lemon juice and cold water.

Freezing Peaches

Freezing fresh fruit is a great way to ensure that you and your family have access to your favorite fruit year-round, even when they aren’t in season.

This can be done in two different ways. You can blanch your peaches. Make sure you score an “X” at the bottom so the skin will be easier to peel.

Frozen peach slices in a freezer bag.

Quickly place the peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, then immediately put them in ice water. Then peel the skin and put your peaches in the freezer whole, or cut them up and place them in the freezer.

If that sounds like too much work, you can cut up your peaches, put them on a cookie sheet, and then lay them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, place them in a Ziploc bag, and they will be ready for you to use whenever you choose.

Refrigerate

If you want to keep your peaches from becoming overripe after picking them but don’t want to freeze them, then refrigerating them is the best option.

Cut your peaches into slices or cubes and place them in an airtight container. The cold air keeps the peaches from over-ripening. And the airtight container will keep them from browning.

Your peaches will last up to 5 days like this in the fridge.

Submerge in Sugar Syrup

Submerging your peaches in sugar syrup can preserve peaches for up to a year.

Use equal parts granulated sugar and water. Place your peaches in an airtight jar and pour your sugar syrup mixture over them.

Mason jars of peaches in syrup.

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is the powder from Vitamin C supplements. When you mix it with water, it creates a diluted solution.

Then place the pieces of your peach into an airtight container and pour the solution over them. Remember to leave room at the top.

This is a great way to store peaches for either freezing or canning.


You’ll Always Know When to Pick Peaches!

Here at Minnetonka Orchards, we know how disappointing it can be when you pick fresh fruit from your garden and are left wanting. Because of its lack of sweetness and texture because it isn’t ripe yet.

Person picking peach from a tree.

This is why we feel it’s important to introduce you to different ways of telling when to pick peaches or any other harvest you might have. So you can feel confident in the ripeness of your fruits and vegetables.

Want to know more about growing your own peaches at home and how to care for your trees? Visit our Peach Trees page where you’ll find blog posts on peach varieties, plus all our helpful growing and care guides.