How to Peel a Peach
Although peach skins are edible, sometimes they just get in the way of all that peachy flavor. Learn the best way to peel a peach whether you have a firm peach or a super ripe and juicy one.
By Carlos C Olaechea for Food Network Kitchen
Carlos is a contributing writer at Food Network
Some fruits need special preparation in order to fully enjoy them. Others (we're looking at you, papaya) need a sprinkle of sugar and a squirt of lemon or lime juice to elevate their natural flavors. But a peach really doesn’t need anything. Or does it?
While you can enjoy peaches as they are – skin and all – there are times when the thin, edible skin can get in the way of the true gorgeousness of this stone fruit. When used in a pie or peach cobbler, for instance, the skins can turn leathery, detracting from the smooth, juicy mouthfeel of the cooked fruit. However, peeling a peach isn’t quite the same as peeling an apple. Anyone who’s cooked with a perfectly ripe peach just waiting to explode with nectar is probably too familiar with the ensuing sticky orange typhoon when it’s not properly handled. That’s why we’re here to show you the best way to peel a peach.
The Best Peaches for Peeling
The best peaches for peeling aren’t necessarily the best peaches for eating out of hand. The same holds true for a lot of other fruit. A very ripe, soft peach is probably best reserved for a snack, either whole or sliced. If you want to peel a peach, look for fruit that is firm and maybe not quite ripe yet. A firm peach will enable you to smoothly guide your peeling tool around its voluptuous curves without turning it into mush in your hands. This is especially important if you plan to bake or grill your peach.
However, if you really insist on using very ripe peaches for a recipe and need to get rid of the peels, you can still do it. It’s just going to require a little more care on your part. Keep reading to find out more.
Choosing the Right Tool to Peel a Peach
The best tool for peeling a peach is one that will take off the skin without removing too much of the flesh. You want an instrument that is sharp enough not to bruise the fruit while peeling it.
For firm peaches, a sharp vegetable peeler is your best bet. As vegetable peelers get older and you use them on produce with tougher skins (like butternut squash and yucca), their blades dull and are hard to sharpen. While the vegetable peeler that grandma passed down may be perfect for peeling a mountain of mashed potatoes, you’ll end up with a heap of baby food if you use it on a peach. We recommend reserving your new, sharp vegetable peeler for soft, delectate fruit only.
For softer, riper peaches, use a paring knife. This arguably takes a little more skill to master. You’ll also nick off more flesh than you would using a sharp vegetable peeler on a firm peach. However, when you use a vegetable peeler, you are applying firm pressure on whatever you’re peeling. This is alright for firm peach, but it will damage a softer peach.
A paring knife is also multitasker that can help you remove a peach’s stem and pry out the pit. You can use the paring knife to cut your peaches into smaller pieces. This reduces the number of tools you need to use, and we all love it when there’s less cleanup after a kitchen project.
How to Perfectly Peel a Peach
There are actually many ways to peel a peach, depending on what you intend to do with it. We have a great hack here that makes this task a breeze and only requires you to score the peach, which means you don’t really have to worry about how firm your peaches are or how sharp your peeler or knife is. However, it does require you to blanch them in simmering water. If you plan to cook your peaches, this is an excellent and practically fool-proof approach. However, if you plan on enjoying them raw or want to grill or sear them, it can make your peaches a little mushy. Below we spell out how to perfectly peel a peach without having to use hot water.
How to Peel a Firm Peach
To peel a firm peach, you can use either a very sharp vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Here’s how to do it:
- Wash your peach. The peach fuzz and any dirt or dust on the exterior can contaminate the flesh while you’re peeling the fruit. Be gentle and use a cloth or paper towel to wipe it clean and dry.
- Gently cup the peach in your hand. You don’t want to sink your fingers into the fruit, but you also don’t want it slipping from your hand.
- Start peeling at a prominent curve. Firmly glide your peeler across the surface. Go slowly and gently at first to determine how much pressure you need to peel the peach. If you find that you have to press too hard with your peeler, it may be too dull. Stop and take out a sharp paring knife to finish.
- Don’t try to peel your peach in one continuous motion. It looks cool, and it is possible to do, but it does take some practice. You want to focus on keeping the beautiful shape of the peach, so short strokes are just fine. Take your time.
- Use a paring knife to peel the top and bottom crevices. You’ll notice that your peeler won’t be able to fit inside the top and bottom crevices of the peach, and that’s okay. Don’t force it or you’ll crush it. If you need all the skin off your peach, take a small knife and carve out the remaining skin (as well as the stem) from the top and bottom. If you plan to cut up your peaches into smaller pieces, you can also slice your peach in half which will make it easier to get to the rest of the skin with your peeler.
How to Peel a Soft Peach
Working with a soft peach requires a gentler hand and a sharp paring knife. If you’re unsure of how sharp your knife is, sharpen it as an extra measure. While it may seem counterintuitive, a sharper knife actually leads to less accidents and is safer to use than a dull knife. Here’s how to easily peel a soft, ripe peach:
- Wash the peach. Wipe off any peach fuzz, dirt or debris, then dry it off.
- Gently grasp your peach. Make sure to apply even pressure across your fingers so you don’t dig your fingertips into the flesh.
- Start peeling at the most voluptuous curve. Slowly glide your paring knife across the curve. Try to slide your knife as close to the skin as possible, but don’t worry about shaving off gossamer shreds of skin like you would with a peeler. You won’t quite get that level of precision with a paring knife without a lot of practice.
- Adjust your pressure and speed, if necessary. Make a change if you see that you’re going too deep, not deep enough or are pressing down too hard. As with using a vegetable peeler, don’t worry about peeling off a long, continuous strip of skin. Small bits are just fine. Do what you feel comfortable with and remember that you are trying to preserve the shape of the peach, not the peel.
- Use your paring knife to remove the stem and peel the crevices. Cut away the skin and stem at the bottom and top of the peach, inside the crevices. Use the point of your knife to make a small incision and then twist the blade in a circle. You’re basically cutting out a little cone.