Pitting and slicing this summer stone fruit has never been simpler.
While I do love watermelon, peaches are actually my very favorite summer fruit. Peaches can be enjoyed in a salad, blended into a drink, in all manner of desserts, or my favorite, sliced on a piece of buttered bread with a sprinkle of flaky salt and a drizzle of honey.
Here, we will discuss the different varieties of peaches, provide tips on choosing the best one, and teach you how to slice them so they look beautiful no matter how you choose to use them.
Peaches are widely available in many places beginning in the late spring and reaching their peak in the early summer. The two most common varieties are the classic yellow and the super sweet white. Slicing peaches can be slightly more difficult depending on whether they are clingstone or freestone.
In clingstone peaches, the pit is firmly attached to the flesh and does not come out easily. They are available earlier in the season and are typically found at farmer’s markets. Clingstone peaches are smaller and slightly sweeter, so they are often used for canning.
In contrast, the pit in freestone peaches isn’t well attached and is easily removed from the fruit. They are more readily available (this is the type of peach you’re likely to find in the grocery store) as well as larger and juicier.
Since peaches are relatively small fruit, you need an appropriately sized knife. We recommend our Paring Knife. It’s the perfect size for making the cuts you need and even maneuvering around a clingstone pit. Make sure your knife has been adequately sharpened so you don’t crush the delicate fruit. Our Paring Knife is full tang and fully forged, meaning that it’s every bit as sturdy as our larger blades.
Start by finding a peach that is perfectly ripe and ready to slice. Peak peach season is usually in the middle of summer and is therefore the best time for peaches so you don’t have to wait for them to ripen on your counter or windowsill. If possible, purchase local peaches, which if you live in the South, also happen to be the best you can get. Here are some things to look out for.
Most peach dishes, whether they’re sweet or savory, call for the fruit to be sliced. You can adjust the width of your slices as you see fit. Here is the basic method we use whenever we're cutting a peach.
Set the knife down and hold the peach between your hands. Twist the halves in opposite directions and pull the fruit apart into two halves.
If your peach is a freestone, the pit should pop out easily at this point. If it’s a clingstone, you may need to carefully slide the knife under the pit and scoop it out. Alternatively, you can trace the shape of the pit with your knife and then pull it out.
Set one half of the peach cut side down on your Butcher Block (ideally not after you’ve been cutting onions the night before) and set the other half aside. Follow the curve of the peach and cut evenly sized slices to your desired thickness.
Repeat this step with the other half of the peach. You can also cut these slices in half, in thirds, or into small triangles for a fruit salad.
Once you’ve sliced up your peach, it’s best to eat it as soon as possible. As the fruit sits, it will start to oxidize and turn brown. While this is not an indication of the peaches going bad, it’s not very appealing. If you’re not going to serve the peaches immediately, you can toss them with a little bit of lemon juice to preserve their color.
If you want to store peaches long term, we recommend freezing them. Simply lay the cut fruit out on a Sheet Pan, freeze until solid so they don’t stick together, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag. That way, you can enjoy the bounty of summer all year long.
Now that you know how to cut peaches, it’s time for dessert. Chef Chris Shepherd puts his spin on the classic Southern dessert that’s sure to be a hit at any BBQ. Chef Shepherd tosses fresh peaches with some warm spices, including a surprise ingredient—black pepper—before topping the whole thing off with a simple drop biscuit dough. Sweet peaches paired with the floral spice of black pepper is a winning combination and a perfect end to any summer meal.
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