Boiling Water Is The Key To Easily Peeling Peaches

Sweet, juicy peaches make a delightful addition to so many dishes, from savory salads to creamy smoothies, as well as pies, cobblers, or a peach and bourbon cheesecake. But when it's time to peel the thin skins off this soft, delicate fruit? There's nothing delightful about that. You can try using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, but you could end up squishing the peaches' tender flesh into a mess, or even cutting yourself if the slippery fruit slides around on a cutting board.

Luckily, there's a way to remove the skin from peaches much more easily, and it barely involves a knife at all. Instead, you can use a pan of boiling water and a bowl of ice water for a technique known as blanching and shocking. This two-step method helps those pesky skins slide right off of the fruit.

Firstly, you add the whole peaches to a pot of boiling water, which loosens the skin of the fruit just enough so that you can easily peel it away without making a mess. Plunging the fruit into an ice bath right after "shocks" them and removes residual heat. This prevents them from cooking, which would alter their taste and texture. This means the succulent flesh of the fruit remains intact, ready for dicing or cubing (or eating straight, if you don't like peach fuzz).

Blanch and shock peaches so the skin comes away easily

To pull off the blanching and shocking technique, the peaches should be gently lowered into a pan of boiling water using a slotted spoon, so you don't risk burning yourself. The peaches only need around 30 seconds to a minute in the hot water, depending on how ripe they are, for the skin to loosen enough to make peeling a breeze. Less ripe peaches will need closer to a minute.

Next, remove the peaches from the hot water and plunge them into a freezing bowl of cold water with ice. As well as cooling the fruit down so that it doesn't carry on cooking and turn to mush, the ice bath makes it so you can pick up the fruit and get to peeling almost right away. From there, just gently run a knife around the circumference of each peach, and use your hands to pull away the skin, which should come off easily without damaging the flesh.

You may wish to pat the peaches dry with a paper towel after the ice bath, but before removing the skin, so they're less slippery. Another trick is to lightly score the base of the peaches with a small "X" shape using a paring knife, before they go in the boiling water. This makes the skin even easier to remove in the end.

How to use your easy-peel fruit

As well as being incredibly easy, another advantage of the blanching technique is that you can peel many peaches in one go, without any time-consuming knife work. And if you prepare a big batch of peaches, the diced fruit is easy to store in the refrigerator or freezer, so it's ready to be used. Pre-prepared peach slices will keep in the fridge for around five days if you don't need to use them immediately. Simply pop them into an airtight container, with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them from browning. 

If you want to keep them even longer, you can freeze blanched peaches by slicing them and then freezing them briefly on a baking sheet, before transferring them to an airtight bag. The extra step ensures that they don't stick together. Though they may be a little softer once defrosted, they can still work well in a number of dessert recipes, such as pie fillings or ice cream.

Lastly, make sure you choose the tastiest peaches at the grocery store to get perfectly ripe fruit, as it will make them easier to peel, not to mention they taste better. And the boiling water and ice bath method can also be applied to other fruits besides peaches. Try it on tomatoes, for example, to quickly and easily remove the skins for a salad or quick pasta sauce.