Cling stone or Freestone?
Freestone, cling stone, cling free, stone free... However you find yourself wording it - this is one of our most commonly asked questions! All of these are used to describe a quality of a peach. Freestone is sometimes mistaken to be the name of a peach; however, it is only a quality that a peach does or does not have.
Whether or not a peach is Freestone has less to do with what variety it is and more to do with where we are in peach season. Early peaches are Cling stone, gradually they become semi-freestone in mid to late July, and then come August for peak peach season most all peaches are completely Freestone.
Cling Stone Peaches: If a peach is cling stone, this means that the peach fruit will “cling” or stick to the “stone” aka seed. If you want to slice up a peach that is cling stone, you will have to carefully carve the flesh away from the seed. Because of this, cling stone peaches are great for picking up and eating fresh, but not so much for slicing, canning, etc… The first peaches of the season are always cling stone. Clingstone Peach varieties: early Desiree, early Flaming Fury (early to mid July).
Semi-Freestone: As we move into the peach season, peaches will gradually become semi-freestone. This means that some peaches may come off of the seed relatively well when cut, others may not at all. Either way, chances are you will not be able to cut the peach in half and twist it off, or sometimes even quarter them off. Our advice for cutting up semi-freestone peaches is to make sure that they are ripe (let them set out for a day or two after purchase to soften up) and then quarter and slice off 1/8th wedges. More likely than not this will enable you to get most of the peach off of the seed easily. It seems as though hotter and drier growing seasons encourage peaches to become freestone earlier in the season and vice versa. Semi-Freestone varieties: Desiree, Flaming Fury, Century, Early Red Haven (mid to late July).
Freestone: Freestone peaches are what everyone waits for! When a peach is freestone this means that the fruit separates easily from the seed, enabling you to cut a peach in half to remove the seed. We encourage people to wait a few weeks into peach season to begin canning and freezing peaches because of this. Red Haven are the first Freestone peach variety of the season, but even the first few pickings of them tend to cling to the stone a bit, especially on wetter years. Typically by the first week of August all peaches are Freestone. Freestone peach varieties: Late Red Haven, SunHi, John Boy, Contender, Coral Star, Gloria, Autumn Glo, Laurel (August-September).