Can You Ripen an Unripe Peach?

There is nothing better than biting into a ripe, juicy peach. But this mistake could leave you with a tough, stringy bite.

Peaches are the ultimate summer treat! That bright flavor is so worth the sticky hands you’ll have. From sweet peach crisp to savory peach chipotle ribs, peaches can add juicy sweetness to just about any meal.

On the flip side, though, it’s downright disappointing to bite into a bad peach. If you’ve ever had to toss a mealy peach into the compost heap, you’ve made this mistake before—buying unripe peaches.

We’ve all been there. You see the display of peaches at the grocery store, and even though they feel a bit too firm, you give in to temptation and hope for the best. Perhaps you gave them a few days on the counter or kept them in a paper bag to help them ripen. The problem is that even though they might soften, you still won’t get the satisfaction of a perfectly ripe peach.

The Problem with Unripe Peaches

Unlike some other fruits, peaches will not develop a sweet, juicy flavor after they’re picked from the tree. (The sticky natural sugar is the reason why fresh peaches make the best desserts.) So, once an unripe peach has been picked and transported to a grocery store, it will never live up to your expectations. That unripe peach might also feel hard and stringy or soft and mealy when you bite into it.

What to Do with Unripe Peaches

To soften hard, unripe peaches, put them in a paper bag and leave on the counter for a day. You want the peaches to have a slight give when you squeeze them. If they’re not quite soft yet, give them another 24 hours before you check again. This method works for many fruits that keep ripening after harvest.

How to Tell If a Peach Is Ripe

When shopping for peaches, it’s best to be a produce snob. First, check out the color: look for bright, vibrant fruits. Then gently feel the peach. If it feels hard like an apple, move on. The peach should feel slightly soft—and already smell amazing.

When it comes to peaches, the good ones are worth the wait. The best place to find ripe peaches is the farmers market. They most likely traveled a shorter distance, spent less time in cold storage and spent more time ripening on the tree. Say no to unripe peaches and hold out for the real deal!

Put Those Ripe Peaches to Good Use
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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.