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Be a peach and don’t roll your eyes as we start this brief intro with a predictable pun.
These fuzzy friends are some of our favorite types of fruits – good in everything from pies to preservatives to plucked directly from the tree.
And since we can never seem to get enough of a good thing, there are plenty of types of peaches to go around – which, as far as we’re concerned, is just peachy keen! (Okay, you can maybe roll your eyes at that one.)
Not Quite Millions of Peaches
There are hundreds of types of peaches around the world – so many, in fact, that we don’t even call them all peaches. (More on that later.)
The species, officially known as persica, got its scientific name from Persia, where the fruit was widely cultivated before breaking into Europe, but it got its official start in China, where the peach was even more widely revered.
The Asian nation considered peaches divine, and it was believed that eating enough of the fruit could keep one young forever.
Luckily for us, there are literally hundreds of delicious ways to test that theory. Though, in order to write them all out in a list, we would almost have to stay young forever!
Instead, we’ve broken down the types of peaches into a few broad categories, and listed some of the most popular types of peaches to pine over.
Romancing the Stone
Peaches may be all warm and fuzzy on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that really counts.
Beneath their sweet exterior, peaches reveal their true stony characters: the large, dense seed at the center of the fruit that cautious snackers have long learned to cut or bite around.
But not all stones are created equal.
Different types of peaches are actually broadly categorized by the characteristics of their pits, including:
- Freestone peaches – With pits that rather easily separate from the flesh, these cultivars are most popular to eat raw and typically the type of peach you’ll find at the grocery store. They’re a bit less juicy than other varietals, but more than make up for it with their lack of surprise chipped teeth.
- Clingstone peaches – These stage-five clingers have a lot of separation anxiety – but we keep them around anyway because they’re so sweet. Clingstone peaches are typically much juicier and tastier than freestones, but due to the pits that stick to their flesh, these cultivars are typically saved for canning, cooking or making preservatives.
- Semi-Freestone peaches – Nature always knows best, but that doesn’t mean mankind can’t make the odd suggestion. These hybrid species are bred to have the best of both worlds: A robust, juicy flavor, and a stone that can take a break-up well.
Another way to tell a peach apart is by the color of its flesh, with different types of peaches revealing not just different interior hues, but all the different characteristics that go with them.
Most likely the original – and still most popular type of peach – these cultivars can range from light yellow to deep, red-streaked orange on the inside, and carry a juicy but particularly tangy bite, thanks to a higher acidity count.
Some of the most famous types of yellow peaches include:
- O’Henry peaches – Don’t be fooled by their green Irish name – these peaches are all yellow. O’Henrys are known to be particularly balanced, showcasing more sweetness than most yellow varietals, and thanks to their freestone status, they’re nearly the perfect type of peach for snacking.
- Red Top peaches – The amount of tannins (that dreaded astringent compound) in this cultivar may put you on red alert. But don’t worry – it mostly leads to a tart-tasting flesh. And for those still unconvinced, these peaches hide any residual bitterness under a particularly sweet aroma.
- Santa Rosa peaches – As a clingstone, these peaches are usually the apple of a baker’s eye. Santa Rosa peaches have a firm flesh and crisp bite that stands up well in the oven – plus a juiciness that makes them a particularly good preservative.
The same as yellow peaches in almost every way, besides their namesake colored-flesh, these types of peaches are usually descendants of the original Asian varietals.
Many people also swear these cultivars taste sweeter than their yellow cousins. We’re never ones to choose sides, but you can give some of these a try to see what you think:
- Arctic Supreme – As frosty white inside as its name suggests, these types of peaches are sweet and tangy. But be careful before biting into one: their clingstone status means their pits are always close by.
- Babcock – A freestone peach that retains its juiciness and sweet quality, this cultivar represents a rare treat indeed.
- Donut peach – If Homer Simpson ever bothered to like healthy food, we’re sure this would be his favorite. Donut peaches get their name from their strange, squatty shape – complete with sunken center. And they’re arguably even more tasty, carrying a sweet, almost almond-like flavor.
A Peach By Any Other Name
When it comes to categorizing peaches, there’s a point where it’s time to separate the boys from the men—or at least, the fruits still rocking peach fuzz from the ones who’ve learned how to shave.
Smooth-skinned (or, in other words, fuzz-free) peaches also exist.
It’s just one small variation in the genetic code that causes these peach varietals to go bare-faced into the world. Otherwise, they’re categorized the same way as other different types of peaches, coming in both freestone and clingstone varieties and cultivars with both yellow and white flesh.
These mysterious types of peaches are so grown up, they’ve chosen to go by another name all together: Nectarines.
That’s right, the notorious “peaches vs. nectarines” debate is actually more like “peaches vs. a slightly genetically modified peach.” Though, that’s not quite as catchy.
Proving that, just like a rose, a peach, by any other name, would be as sweet.