Peach Varieties: It's a Peach Beauty Pageant!

Pick your favorite from among these varieties and get tips for using them in dessert and drink recipes.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dr. Desmond R. Layne

'Winblo' Yellow Peach

Developed by North Carolina State University and released in 1972, this yellow freestone peach has become a real crowd pleaser over the years.  It has what they call melting flesh because it practically melts in your mouth and is one of the most beautiful peaches due to its colorful blend of reds and yellows. Since it is a freestone, the fruit separates easily from the peach pit. It is delicious to eat when ripe on the tree but also ideal for canning or freezing. 

'Carored' Yellow Peach

A yellow clingstone peach with velvety red blush skin, 'Carored' is usually available late May-early June depending on your climate. It has a lovely round shape with slight tips and is popular for its soft as custard fruit when ripe. As a clingstone peach, the fruit adheres to the pit making it a little difficult to remove. Try 'Carored' in a peach martini: 2 ounces vanilla vodka/1 ounce peach schnapps/2 ounces peach nectar/1/2 ounce fresh lime juice & peach slice for garnish.

'Arctic Sweet' White Nectarine

This white flesh nectarine has a predominant pinkish-red surface color, is firm in texture and sweet with a very mild acidic flavor. Nectarines, a genetic mutation of the peach, have smooth skin unlike the fuzzy exterior of peaches. 'Arctic Sweet' is classified as semi-clingstone which means the flesh of the fruit partially sticks to the pit (or stone) when slicing it up or eating it. Delicious as a healthy snack or try it in a smoothie with banana, yogurt, orange juice and honey. 

'Honey Blaze' Yellow Nectarine

Developed by Zaiger Genetics in Modesto, California, which has created great tasting fruit hybrids and cultivars over the years, this semi-clingstone nectarine has been around since 1998 and is notable for its sweet yellow flesh which lacks the typical tanginess associated with Southern peaches. 'Honey Blaze' has low acidity and high sweetness. The texture is crunchy but juicy. Try it sliced thin in a mixed fruit medley with yellow and white peaches so you can savor the different flavors. 

'White Lady' Peach

A highly versatile freestone white peach that has been available since 1986, it is usually harvested the first or second week of July. For years, yellow peaches were the predominant type found in markets but white peaches have risen in popularity rapidly due to their low acid level and mellow honey-sweet flavor. Enjoy it during its early stage of ripeness when the texture is pleasingly crunchy or allow it to soften to a butter texture. Try some sliced up in a recipe for sangria for something refreshingly different at cocktail hour. 

'Spring Snow' White Peach

Distinguished by its appealing pinkish red skin over a creamy white background, this clingstone white peach has a texture that is firm to very firm with a good sub acid flavor, which is a trait shared by most white peaches. This cultivar may be a little harder to find at grocery stores and markets which tend to favor freestone over clingstone peaches because they're easier to eat. But seek out the 'Spring Snow' for its high sugar, smooth textured white flesh. Try 'Spring Snow' in a peach ice cream recipe.

'Galaxy' Donut Peach

A natural genetic mutation that originated from China, the 'Galaxy' is commonly known as a flat or donut peach. It is regarded as a clingstone with white flesh and a sweet, mild sub acid flavor. The shape makes it a novelty but the cultivar is here to stay and growing in popularity. It has a wonderful flavor, whether you serve it plain or in a peach cobbler.

'Galactica' Donut Peach

Here is another example of the once unusual donut peach that is becoming more common at summer markets across the country. This cultivar was first developed in North Carolina and is favored for its wonderful aroma and delicious white flesh which has the requisite sweetness. Growers like it because the fruit is cold weather hardy and fetches the premium price at markets. It is classified as a freestone peach and best eaten fresh out of hand but pairs wonderfully with custards, ice cream and mild cheeses like ricotta.

'Biscoe' Yellow Peach

With a 50 percent light red blush over a deep yellow background, this freestone peach is very sweet and juicy with all the attributes of a traditional Southern peach. Be aware that the skin is slightly thin and susceptible to breaking. It has fine textured flesh that is deep yellow to light orange in color and would be ideal for a peach ice cream recipe. It is also great in salads and fruit soups. You could try mixing 'Biscoe' slices with yellow tomatoes over garden greens with a balsamic vinaigrette or making a chilled summer soup of cantaloupe and peaches. 

'Carolina Belle' White Peach

Ideal as a base for honey-sweet peach preserves, this rich, full flavored white freestone peach is great for eating as well. It is fairly large, averaging 3 inches in size and has a creamy white flesh that is accented by striking patterns of red pigmentation. It usually ripens in mid-July. Delight breakfast guests with these white peaches in pancakes or waffles or make a parfait with yogurt topped with toasted almonds. 

'Snowbrite' White Peach

Another winner from Zaiger Genetics, this white flesh, freestone peach was first patented in 1993. If you wanted to grow this cultivar in your yard, you would have to buy it from a licensed propagator because it is still under patent. But it's worth it. The peach has a lovely red blush coloring and is savored for its low acidity and high sugar content. The occasional red pigmentation in the flesh means it contains anthocyanin pigments which are excellent antioxidants.  Surprisingly juicy at its peak (usually middle to late June), it is also great in dessert dishes like a white peach tart.

'Contender' Yellow Peach

A great tasting freestone peach with an appearance of 70 percent red blush over a background of yellow, the extra-juicy 'Contender' has just the right amount of sweetness. This is a popular choice with growers too because it is cold hardy and is resistant to browning. It is ideal for baking, canning and freezing. Throw some thick slices on the grill and then marinate them in bourbon (covered) for three days at room temperature. Then strain and transfer the syrup to a jar to use in other recipes and serve the bourbon-infused peaches with homemade vanilla ice cream. 

'Cresthaven' Yellow Peach

First available to the public in 1963, this attractive yellow flesh peach is a longtime favorite and an excellent eating choice with a uniform round shape and melting flesh that is tangy in the best sense. Sweet and juicy right off the tree (late July is the peak time), this freestone peach has become a favorite in the deep South even though it was developed for the state of Michigan. It is also great in numerous savory dishes such as grilled chicken or in a stir fry with vegetables, pork and peaches. 

'Caroking' Yellow Peach

Cultivated at Clemson University and available to the public since 2005, this is a versatile yellow flesh peach that is great for eating but also a prime candidate for cobblers, smoothies and tropical entrees. A freestone peach, it has tanginess, sweetness and melting flesh. For something different, try this cocktail recipe for a Peach Collins using 1/2 cup chopped peaches, 1/2 cup peach vodka, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup simple syrup. Mix it up and top the glasses with club soda.

'Southern Pearl' White Peach

Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Georgia, this rose colored beauty has been around since 1997 and is a traditional white fleshed peach except for one thing. It has a normal amount of acidity which gives it some pizzazz and is a semi-freestone plus it's juicy, sweet and pleasantly aromatic. Instead of using yellow peaches in a dessert, substitute this delicious white variety in a peach pie or peach upside down cake.