How to Pick a Perfectly Ripe Peach

BYOB: Bring your own bib.

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Who doesn't love peaches in pies, crisps, cobblers, and stone-fruit salads? We have just one caveat: The peaches have to be soft, sweet, and juicy. There's nothing worse than trying to cut into a rock-hard peach and hearing the loud, traumatic cracking sound as you rip the flesh from the pit. Drippy chin and hands fully covered—or don't even bother.

What's the best way to pick a perfectly ripe peach? Here are a few easy pointers. Once you've found The One, try one of our delicious peach recipes.

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What to Look For

Color comes first. The best peaches should have vibrant, yellow flesh and golden-reddish skin. Look towards the stem: a lighter yellow tone is a sign of a less ripe peach; brighter golden hues are signs of ripeness. Skip fruits with green spots, bruises, dents, or flat areas. Also, avoid peaches with wrinkly skin—they were likely chilled after being harvested and are dried out.

RELATED: The 6 Best Practices for Baking with Fruit

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What to Smell

The scent of a peach is directly correlated to the taste. If you give it a whiff and smell nothing, it'll probably taste like nothing. This isn't always the case (depending on the variety), but generally speaking, stone fruits from the farmer's market should be noticeably fragrant.

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What to Feel

A gentle press of a peach will tell you a lot. Squeeze on the side or at the stem: If it's slightly soft (it should give to a bit of pressure), the fruit is ripe. Firmness is a sign that your peach is underripe. Because you probably want to enjoy your peaches over the course of several days, it's a good idea to buy a range of ripeness levels.

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Plan Ahead

Think about when you'd like to enjoy your peaches. If you'll be baking a pie for a picnic that's today, go for peak-ripeness; if you want to throw them on the grill three days from now, find a few that are firmer and lighter in color.

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Store Smarter

Store your peaches at room temperature. Keep them stem-side down in a single layer to avoid bruising. If they start to get overripe, toss them in the crisper drawer in your fridge.

RELATED: This is the Best Way to Speed Up—And Slow Down—The Ripening of Avocados

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