Depending on the place they are grown and the variety of the peach, the time to harvest peaches can differ. Mostly they ripen mid-summer to late-summer. In the orchards located in southern US, they ripen in June and July while in the Northern parts they ripen in July and August. Peaches stop ripening once they are picked. Since all the peaches borne on the trees do not ripen simultaneously, the growers need to pick them almost every day during the harvesting season. Knowing the best time to harvest peaches can save a gardener a lot of trouble.
The best way to decide if the peach can be picked is to see how easily they come off the stem. When they can be pulled easily, they are considered ripe enough. Ripe peaches if left un-plucked will not ripen further. Instead they tend to get soft, and this ends up marring their taste. Another indicator of the ripeness is the softness of the pulp. When pressed by the thumb, if the pulp moves in they are considered ripe. Such peaches are ideal for consumption and canning as well.
An easier indicator of ripeness is the smell. The ripe ones will have a pleasant peachy smell while the green ones will not have any such smell.
Peaches come in colors like yellow and red. With experience growers identify ripe peaches by their color as well. While the golden rule is that green colored peaches are still raw, the change to yellow color indicates that they have ripened. Some varieties change from green to orange color while some become redder or remain with a mix of red and orange color with further ripening. Ideally, growers use all these indicators such as feel, stem strength and color to identify ripe peaches for harvesting.
Harvesting should be done cautiously in order to prevent damaging the delicate fruit. Wear cotton gloves, use soft finger pressure for plucking, pull the fruit straight fro the bush, use a shallow container with standing edge of three to four inches to collect them, and do not heap the fruits in the container to avert damage to the peaches at the bottom.
When stored in room temperature, they can survive for up to two days. When stored in an environment with temperature controlled at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they can last up to two weeks. For long term, one can freeze or can them.
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