How to peel a peach perfectly: no knife needed

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The perfectly peeled peach.

Wonderfully smooth flesh. No nicks, no gouges… no skin.

And no knife.

Do you know the secret to easy peach-peeling?

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Here’s a clue: you won’t find yourself in hot water, but your peaches will!

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Start with peaches that are ripe; this peeling method works poorly with the super-hard peaches you often get at the grocery store. Choose peaches that are firm, yet yield a bit when you press them with your finger; this is a sign the peaches are actually ripe (and will taste good) – something you can’t judge by their color alone.

Also, while you can certainly peel over-ripe, mushy peaches using this method, you’ll probably lose a lot of flesh along with the skin – just as you would when peeling with a paring knife.

Test one peach first, to see if your peaches are ripe enough to slip their skins in boiling water.

Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil.

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Gently lower the peach into the boiling water. Leave it there for 30 seconds.

Not 30 seconds once it starts boiling again; just 30 seconds.

Use a spoon to remove the peach from the hot water, and plunge it into an ice water bath.

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After 10 seconds or so, grab the peach, and pinch a piece of skin to get started; then simply peel. The skin will slip off easily. If it doesn’t, peel peaches the normal way, with a knife; they’re not ripe enough for this method.

Warning: naked peaches are slippery. Do this over the sink, or someplace where it won’t matter if the peach goes squirting out of your hands.

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Once you’ve peeled a single peach to make sure it’s ripe enough to easily shed its skin using this method, boil as many at a time as can fit into your saucepan.

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Go forth and bake cobbler. Or crisp, or crumble, or pie.

Muffins? Scones? Shortcake? We offer 43 different recipes using peaches. Check ‘em out!

Oh, and remember – step… away… from… the knife.

Except when you’re slicing/dicing the peaches, which is easily accomplished as follows: use a knife to score the peaches all over, pressing into the flesh to the pit. Once the peach is criss-crossed with a crosshatch of lines, gently squeeze it; the pit will separate from the flesh, and the flesh will fall into chunks along your score lines.

Does this method work with other fruits? Well, it does with tomatoes and nectarines, and I’d assume it does with plums; but anything harder, or with a thicker skin? I think not.

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Margaret Theobald

    I use a peeler with a serrated edge……so much easier than boiling water, ice bath, etc. I just made a peach crumb pie today and it is so easy to just peel and slice the peach.
    Tomatoes are another story, much easier to put into boiling water and then ice them down.

    That’s a good idea, Margaret, particularly for peaches that might be too hard for the boiling water method. I find the boiling water simple, especially since I can use a big pot to do all the peaches at once. I can have 10 peaches peeled in about 2 minutes (once they’re through the 30-second simmer), doing it this way. Thanks for your feedback – PJH

    Reply
  2. Aunt lolo

    Ok, I’m going to need a demo on that dicing trick….
    We’ll see what we can do about getting one up for you. I know I’ve seen a few different ones on YouTube. ~ MJ

    Reply
  3. Paul from Ohio

    Such a clever lady – and such a neat simple trick! This old dog will try this – for sure! Always learning from KAF!

    Us old dogs have to keep up with the young pups, don’t we, Paul? :) PJH

    Reply
  4. Sheila

    This is how we always did the peaches to can them when I would help my Mom. They come out so beautiful!

    I will never forget the moment I peeled peaches this way and saw the blush tones on the flesh–I was so surprised! :) Kim@KAF

    Reply
  5. Valleri

    I live KAF! Been doing this for many years. I never bother with the ice bath. I just put them down on a towel and let them cool a bit. I do them 6 at a time in a large pot. I use the tip of a paring knife to pierce the skin and off it comes.

    The ice bath helps to keep them from cooking more, but if they are going to be eaten right away then it shouldn’t be a problem! This method works well for removing the skins from tomatoes.-Jon

    Reply
  6. Judy

    I’ve read that peaches do not need to be peeled before freezing them. I’m wondering if you, or anyone, has tried freezing peaches with the skins on & if it works. I have 1/2 bushel of peaches that I need to freeze today or tomorrow. I have used your hot water bath for peeling & it works well.
    Thank you!!! :>)
    btw….I’m another “old dog”. LOL

    I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze your peaches with the skin on, it should work fine. Anyone else have experience with this?-Jon

    Reply
  7. Kathy Anderson

    When you have an over abundance of peaches the easiest way to store is to wash, freeze whole on a sheet pan and then bag. When ready to use microwave each peach for about 15 seconds and peel comes right off just using your hands.

    Thanks for the tip!-Jon

    Reply
  8. Mary

    I love that you are explicit in explaining “30 seconds.” Not every instruction clarifies that. Thank you!!

    It pays to be clear in this instance, Mary! Otherwise, you risk making peach puree! Tasty, but not helpful for pie! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  9. Sandy Kelley

    Back in the 40′s, that was my job. Mom did the boiling water and then I slipped the skins. The peaches were delicious on a cold winter evening. She did an excellent job of canning them. (Mom used her daughters to ‘automate’ canning.)

    It’s those “automated” processes that aren’t so common these days, Sandy. And as much work as it was, I’m sure it taught a lesson about the true flavor of peaches! the stuff in cans just can’t compare! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  10. Martha Hutson

    What a shame to cut up perfectly beautiful peaches! Remember the pickled peaches we used to have at Thanksgiving and Christmas and special occasions? Does anyone have a recipe for pickled peaches?

    There are lots of ways to pickle peaches, Martha. It depends on what you like in the jar! Most recipes call for 2 cups sugar to 1 cup vinegar and boiling that with the spices you want (a cinnamon sticker per jar, a clove per peach, and a sprinkle of black peppercorns to start with. You can take it from there!). You’ll want to boil up enough pickling liquid to cover the peaches in the jars: you often will cook the peaches until just tender and then slip into jars and seal them as you normally do for canning (Ball has a great site for canning instructions: http://www.freshpreserving.com/getting-started.aspx ) Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  11. SarahD

    An absolutely perfectly ripe peach will peel easily without the boiling method. That’s my test for the perfect peach. I cut them in half, grab a bit of skin at the top with a paring knife and pull. With a perfect peach, the skin will come off in just a couple pieces. Mmmmmm, peach season.

    Reply
  12. patricia

    A very good way to peel a peach. This old dog doesn’t do it that way because I find that if you find a really ripe peach the skin will come off with a table knife. Break the skin and it just slips off.
    Of course, the problem comes when you try to find a ripe peach…Not one that is picked green and allowed to ripen on it’s way to market. There were a few good things about the old days.

    Reply
  13. AJ Quigley

    Wow, did this ever bring back memories! Mom canned both peaches and tomatoes and dipping the wire basket into the boiling water was my “job”. Sometimes I got to help slip the skins on the peaches. My hands reacted badly with the tomatos and I didn’t get to help there.

    Reply
  14. Lora Wimer

    I grew up with my dad in the fruit business. This is NOT the way to peel peaches for the best flavor. Peaches blanched in hot water do not taste nearly as good as peaches peeled with a knife. Sorry, but you are not going to convince me, I have peeled more peaches than I can count. A good freestone peach that is ripe will peel very easily anyway, and the cling peach needs to be peeled with a vegetable peeler.

    Thanks for your input, Lora. I won’t try to convince you – no Baking Police here! And when peaches are being consumed fresh, blanching may affect their flavor. But I stand by this method for baking – since you’re going to be slicing and baking the peaches anyway, a 30-second dip in hot water (followed by 45 minutes in a 350°F oven) isn’t going to have a noticeable effect on flavor. And for someone who lacks knife skills (me), or who has arthritis (my mom), it’s a godsend. PJH

    Reply
  15. floobish

    The first time I tried this, it didn’t work out. Turns out my peaches weren’t ripe enough. I just tried it again today and it worked great!

    Reply
  16. Dwight Lewis

    Thanks for the tip. I am practicing my baking skills for a restaurant and needed an easy way to peal peaches. Now I can use fresh instead of canned.

    Reply
  17. Kevin

    I use this method, but I save the peels. Peels can be added to peaches that are cooked for jam. If you are making jam, simply cut up your peaches after you removed the pit. Cut out any bad spots and cook them down. Peach peels will cook down in the jam and you don’t see them. Have been making peach jam this way for 15 years.

    Kevin, I’ll bet the peels add rich color, too, don’t they? Thanks for the tip! PJH

    Reply

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