How to pick a peach

The food buyers’ guide to choosing and storing WA stonefruit.

WA grown stonefruit is late to the market due to the long, cold Spring but is now appearing in green grocers, according to Agricultural Produce Commission stonefruit committee chairman Tim Byl.

Mr Byl said that WA peach, nectarine, plum and apricot growers have declared war on hard, tasteless summer fruit by producing ripe, ready to eat stonefruit fresh in store now.

For the first time, this season WA-grown stonefruit will carry a sticker carrying the WA map to show consumers which fruit is the freshest, locally grown product.

Compared to imported fruit, WA-grown stonefruit has spent longer ripening on the tree and less time travelling from the orchard to the green grocers’ shelves.

Mr Byl said choosing fruit with the WA-grown sticker was a customer’s safeguard against buying long-haul, low-flavour fruit.
Stonefruit flavour is largely made up of the amounts of solids, particularly sugars and organic acids, and the volatile compound composition. Some 95% of a typical ripe fruit is water, so the fruit quality is determined by a very small amount of solid matter, including eight organic acids that make up the typical sweet/sour taste of a piece of fruit.

Fruit flavour changes dramatically during ripening. The sugar content of both the seeds and pulp increases rapidly during the first appearance of normally yellow or orange colouration, and then to a lesser extent up to the fully ripe condition.

Here are his tips for buying the best stonefruit.

Look for richly coloured plums with no brown spots. Peaches and nectarines should have no green or wrinkly patches.

At home, ripen stone fruits at room temperature, stem-end down. A sweet, flowery smell means peaches and nectarines are ripe and should be refrigerated, unwashed, in a plastic bag. Ripe plums have dull skins.

When ripe, plums and yellow peaches will last in the refrigerator for three to five days. Nectarines and white peaches ripen more quickly; refrigerate them for only a day.