How do I cut a peach? Mostly, I don’t. When peaches reach their incomparable glory at the height of summer, I have one main way of eating them: over a sink, the juices cascading down my arm as all but the pit disappears into my mouth. But every once in a while there is justifiable cause to cut up a peach, say, for a fruit salad, galette, or cobbler.
This guide will show you how to slice and dice your peaches into whatever shape you desire. It should go without saying, these methods also work for nectarines, apricots, and plums; you will have to choose the cutting method depending on whether those fruits are freestone or clingstone, just as would a peach.
Freestone Versus Clingstone Peaches
Before I walk you through the steps for cutting up a peach, it’s worth taking a moment to point out that there are two basic categories of peach that can impact how you cut it up: freestone and clingstone peaches. Most of the peaches I come across nowadays are freestone, which is the easier kind to deal with, but clingstones still exist, so it’s good to be aware of them.
The difference between the two is exactly as the names suggest. Freestone peaches have pits that separate easily from the flesh, while clingstones will fight you every step of the way. This means that the method of cleaving the flesh off a peach changes depending on what kind of peaches you have. In the following guide, I’ll walk you through the more common method with freestones. At the end, I’ll show you how to tackle a clingstone peach.
If Working With Freestone Peaches:
Halve the Peach: All peaches have a seam that runs from top to bottom, it’s what makes them look like cute little butts. This seam is your guide to where to cut: You can either slice along the seam all the way down to the pit, spinning the peach as you go until you’ve fully circled the pit, or you can rotate the peach 90 degrees so that you’re still cutting in the same pole-to-pole direction as the seam but perpendicular to it.
The disadvantage of cutting along the seam is that once opened, peaches halved along the seam will have the pits lying flat in one of the halves, and they will be slightly harder to grab and pop out, but the resultant halves will have wider, more shallow depressions left by the pit, which are better for stuffing. They will also yield more symmetrical peach halves. If, on the other hand, you slice from pole to pole 90 degrees off from the seam, the pit will be easier to grasp, as its edge will be sticking out, but you’ll have two asymmetrical halves, one with the seam on it and one without. You choose which appeals to you more. I like symmetry.
Now twist the two halves you’ve cut. They should pop apart, with one side still holding the pit and the other not. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get one of those peaches where the pit itself splits in half, but it’s not that big of a deal.
Remove Pit: Carefully pop the pit out of the whichever half it’s embedded in. Be careful not to damage the flesh too much as you pry it out.
Trim Out Any Tough Bits: The pit will sometimes leave behind some tough bits, so if you see any, cut them out with a paring knife.
Slice or Dice: If slicing, set each peach half cut side down on a work surface. If you want slices of even thickness, make a series of vertical cuts straight down to the cutting board of whatever width you need. If you want wedges, you can make radial cuts.
If dicing, slice each peach half into planks of whatever size dice you need, then stack the planks and make perpendicular cuts, first one way, then the other, to create the dice.
If Working With Clingstone Peaches:
Since clingstone pits don’t come free from the flesh, you can end up crushing ripe peach flesh while attempting to twist apart the peach halves as described above. Instead, you can simply cut off the flesh in lobes around the pit.
It helps to visualize the shape of the pit inside the a peach for this: The pit is almond-shaped (this is not a coincidence, almonds come from the pits of a very close peach relative), which means it’s oblong. To cut around the pit as closely as possible, you want to angle your knife almost as if you’re cutting a diamond pattern into it from the top down.
This will yield two large lobes of flesh from either side, plus two smaller lobes that are left behind.
Trim away any extra flesh that’s still clinging to the pit.