We may be at the end of peach-picking season, but thankfully, they are still available in the grocery stores. We were in the produce department this weekend doing a little bit of shopping and looking for pumpkins, when I noticed a big burly man picking up the peaches one by one and sniffing them. He would put some back in the pile and bag others.
After watching him awhile, I finally got the nerve up to ask him what on earth he was doing. He said he could smell if they were going to be good, sweet peaches. This was news to me. I thought you only did that to cantaloupe bellybuttons. Before I saw this man, I had already grabbed a few of the peaches and put them in a produce bag, based on feel alone...not to mushy, not too hard. After he walked away, I started sniffing the peaches I had selected. The ones I had put in the bag didn't have a sweet smell to them.
So, I dumped the peaches back into the heap and started picking ones out to sniff and I let my little helper in on the fun too. Sure enough, there is a big difference in peaches. If they don't have a sweet smell, you are going to have a bland, tasteless peach. I'm glad she got this lesson right along with me.
When selecting peaches, use your senses:
1. Smell them. They should smell like sweet peaches.
2. Feel them. They should not be hard as a rock, but should "give" slightly when gently squeezed.
3. Look at them. They should be yellow with a good amount of red and no visible bruises.
4. Buy in season. If you can, buy them from mid-May to mid-August. If they are still slightly under-ripe when you get them, place the peaches in a brown paper bag to let the natural ripening hormones speed the process along.
I realize this tip may not be news to most of you, but I figured I'm probably not the only one out there who's been picking bland peaches all these years. Remember: The NOSE knows! Do you have any great produce picking tips? I'd love to hear them and spare myself the embarrassment of asking big burly men how to pick the best fruit. That could get a little awkward.