Peach Stone Varieties

Peach stone peach

Peaches are one of summer’s most anticipated fruits. Their sweet flavor and juicy texture make them an ideal snack or addition to a recipe. But did you know that there are different types of peaches? Understanding the differences between freestone and clingstone varieties can help you select the best fruit for your recipes and maximize your enjoyment of this delicious summer treat.

Like all stone fruits—or drupes—peaches have a hard pit in the center that is protected by soft fruity flesh and a thin shell. While many people associate peaches with the fuzzy yellow or white variety, they actually come in a wide array of shapes and sizes. They can be very firm or extremely soft, ranging in color from yellow to golden to deep red. And they can have sweet or tart flavor, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

There are three categories of peaches: clingstone, freestone and semi-freestone. The main difference between these is how easily the pit separates from the fruit when it is cut. Clingstone peaches cling to the flesh and require a great deal of effort to remove. In order to eat them, the peach must be split and then a stone is removed with a knife or your fingers. Freestone peaches, on the other hand, have pits that readily separate from the fruit and are easier to eat. In fact, if you were to upend a freestone peach in half, the pit will practically fall out. This makes freestone peaches ideal for eating fresh and making peach desserts.

The third category is the semi-freestone, which combines the benefits of both clingstone and freestone peaches. This newer variety has been hybridized to produce a peach that is easy to eat and versatile for canning and baking. In order to qualify as a semi-freestone, the peach must be fully ripe when harvested and must be easy to remove the pit from the flesh without damaging either one. Semi-freestone peaches can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good choice for making peach jam or jelly.

Researcher’s have recently discovered that peach stones exhibit a unique pattern of development during domestication. To study this, they examined peach stone fruit from six archaeological sites in China that spanned a period of time 5,000 years. By analyzing the size of the stone, researchers were able to determine when lignification began to occur. Interestingly, they found that genes related to stone formation are significantly up-regulated at this time in the development of the stone. This suggests that a specific gene is responsible for the unusual occurrence of peach stone formation.