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Harvesting Peach Trees

Are you ready to enjoy your delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to literally enjoy the “fruits of your labor.” The main things to remember when harvest time rolls around are to pick the fruit at the right time, and properly store/preserve your harvest.

NOTE: This is part 11 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow peach trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

When will I have a peach crop?

Peach trees will start bearing fruit in 2-4 years, under normal growing conditions with proper maintenance and care.

Harvest season for peach trees: Late June through August, depending on the variety and growing location.

Annual average yield per peach tree:

  • Miniature: 1/4 to 1 bushel
  • Dwarf: 1 to 3 bushels
  • Standard: 3 to 6 bushels

Once fruit appears on your peach tree — though you might be tempted — it’s better to wait until just the right time to pick them. Peaches will not further ripen once picked.

Peaches are ripe when:

  • There are no more traces of green and their characteristic color is fully developed.
  • When gently squeezed, a ripe peach “gives” a little. A hard peach is not ripe.
  • A ripe peach smells sweet, and smells just like a peach. If you can’t smell it, it’s not ready.
  • If you’re not sure, pick one and taste a slice. If it’s crunchy and lacks that sweetness and peach taste, wait a few days before harvesting the rest.
How to pick a peach

Grasp a ripe peach gently in the palm of your hand to cradle it so it doesn’t bruise. Twist the peach gently while pulling it away from the branch. A ripe peach breaks free from the tree easily. If the peach doesn’t pop off the tree with a gentle tug, let it continue growing. Handle the fruit carefully to avoid bruising that could develop into spoilage.

Storing Peaches
  • It’s best to leave fresh peaches out of refrigeration (much like tomatoes), but they will keep a few days longer in the refrigerator. Otherwise, you’ll want to either freeze or can your peach harvest so not one luscious peach goes to waste!

Tip: To keep fresh sliced fresh peaches from darkening, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid to a bowl of water and submerge the fruit for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Peach Preserving Tips

You can freeze or can your peach harvest to enjoy during the bleak winter months. We have all the canning and preserving equipment you need to successfully “put up” your peach harvest.

To freeze:

First, determine the number of zippered plastic bags or containers you will need:

  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds of peaches = 1 quart
  • 1 bushel of peaches = about 12 quarts

Peaches should be ripe and slightly soft, but not overly ripe. Wash peaches thoroughly in very cold water.

  • Peel and slice your peaches a few at a time. To peel a peach, dip it into boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge it into cold water. The skin should slide off easily.
  • For each quart of peaches, mix ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid* with 1 tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle over your sliced peaches. Very gently toss with your hands. Pack in airtight bags or containers until 3/4 full. Label the container with the date, then freeze. Keeps 10-12 months.

*available at grocery/drug stores; does not affect the taste of the fruit

To can:

You can also can your peach harvest. There are countless recipes out there, including ones that have been passed down through generations. This includes -preserve sliced or whole peaches, or spiced peaches, jam, jelly, syrup— even peach wine! Find our Homemade Peach Jam recipe here.

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