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Frequently asked questions about peaches!

Carol Cogliano
Hollabaugh Bros., Inc.

(8/2017) This month’s article is going to be slightly different than my norm – no recipes, but lots of information! I was inspired by our customers at Hollabaugh’s, who, while shopping for peaches on our Bin Porch, stop and ask all sorts of questions this time of year! The information in this month’s article has been provided by my co-workers, who helped address some of Hollabaugh’s most "Frequently Asked Questions" about peaches.

Is there a difference between "tree-ripened" and "ready to eat"? Yes -- they are NOT synonymous. "Tree-ripened" is a phenological state at which point a peach has developed the maturity it needs for harvest. "Ready to eat" is an individual person’s preference for taste more than anything else, but for peaches, we generally wait until they have softened a bit before we eat them, which happens when they’re left at room temperature (or in a paper bag if you really want to speed up the process). We harvest thousands of bushels of peaches on our farm every year, many varieties of which are maturing at a similar rate out in the field, but are affected almost daily by the heat, humidity, rain, etc. Now, imagine waiting until all of those peaches are soft to the touch before beginning harvest. What condition do you think they’d be in by the time they arrived at our farm market, less than a mile from their harvest location? Now imagine what condition they’d be like when they were trucked to Florida, where many of our wholesale customers are located?

Will a peach stop ripening, once it is refrigerated? No. Refrigeration slows down the production and release of ethylene, the naturally occurring chemical all fruits produce to ripen, but it does not STOP the ripening process. Akin to the conversation above, if we didn’t refrigerate our peaches, they would have no shelf life, and therefore no marketability.

What is the difference between "free-stone" and "cling"? Just like apples, there are thousands of varieties of peaches, with very different characteristics. "Freestone" (will come off the pit) vs. "semi-freestone" (will not come off the pit), for example: people typically prefer freestone (especially when they are interested in canning), but early in the season, many of the varieties tend to stick to the pit. They are delicious and sweet and juicy, and well worth the effort to fight off the pit. (Sometimes they are referred to as "cling", but Cling is actually a variety of peach that is typically grown in California.) Late season peaches tend to be all freestone, which is why, if you are interesting in canning, it is best to wait until prime peach season – August.

What is a sub-acid peach? Peaches can be either white or yellow fleshed. White peaches tend to be what are called "sub-acid", which means they have a lower acidity level. From an eating standpoint, they’re just pure, sweet, delicious peaches. They don’t have the characteristic "tang" that yellow peaches have (which tend to have higher acidity levels).

Which peaches are good for eating/canning/baking? Folks often ask which variety is best for canning or baking versus eating fresh. The truth is, most any yellow peach is good for most anything! Unlike apples, where you have certain varieties that are extra hard and tart (like a Granny Smith) and other varieties that are softer and sweeter (like a Golden Delicious), most yellow peaches have very subtle differences in flavor, texture, and sweetness such that they’re pretty versatile! Of course, just like with anything, often your own tastebuds will steer you towards a personal favorite variety. It’s really just a case of personal preference, and at Hollabaugh’s, we are happy to let our customers sample any peach before purchase, so please don’t hesitate to ask!

Do you freeze your peaches from last year’s crop? No, never. Customers sometimes suspect this, because the peaches are sometimes still cold when we put them out, and of course still firm (tree-ripened). As mentioned above, if we did not refrigerate our peaches overnight, when they are not out for sale, they would have no shelf life, and they would not be marketable. They are firm because they are "tree-ripe" and not necessarily "ready to eat". A day or two on the counter at home will solve that, and you will be left with a ripe, sweet, juicy peach!

What are "split seeds"? Split seeds are often the result of a spring frost when the peaches are in bloom and being fertilized. The fertilization process is "disturbed" by the cold temps and an anomaly occurs. These peaches are often some of the earliest (because they bloom earliest – when there is the most risk of cold temps) and are difficult to market. There is NOTHING wrong with the peach or its flavor eating qualities, but if the split is wide enough, sometimes insects will make their way down in the split, and sometimes moisture collects, and you get mold. We try to weed out the most severe split seeds, but – as mentioned – this is often what occurs in our very early peaches when everyone is screaming for peaches. Throwing them on the ground is NOT a solution. Rather – we encourage customers to use them and/or refrigerate them – rather quickly – to avoid the things mentioned above.

Is there a such thing as a "Chambersburg Peach"? Nope! Many of our customers ask for "Chambersburg peaches", but there truly is no such thing. We believe this came about – years ago – when the Chambersburg/Fayetteville area grew a lot of peaches. Produce vendors from the west (i.e. Pittsburgh) would hop on the turnpike, pick up peaches as soon as they could see them (Chambersburg exit off the turnpike) and just call them Chambersburg peaches.

…and one last important point for customers to understand: The drier the season, the better the peach. Think of your biology class: You have a beaker of water and put a teaspoon of sugar in? So-so sweet. Have the same beaker of water and add a cup of sugar? SUPER sweet. So – if you have a LOT of rain – your beaker suddenly is quite full with moderate sugar. If you get very little rain – the peach is just loaded with sugar – no dilution is taking place. As growers, we will always opt for dry than wet. Too dry and you have a smaller crop, but too wet and fruit fills with water not sugar – and isn’t as tasty. The same is true for sweet corn. Also – too wet and we’re wide open for lots of mold, bug, and decay.

We hope that our "Peach FAQ" has taught you something new about peaches! Education is a big part of what we do at Hollabaugh’s, and we love to share our knowledge of fruits and vegetables with everyone.


Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. will be celebrating our annual Peach Fest on Saturday and Sunday, August 12 and 13 from 12 -5 p.m. each day, featuring: peach samples galore, home-made peach ice cream sundaes and peach baked goods, lawn games, wagon rides, face painting, kids’ bounce house, fun kids’ activities, Fairy Tale Trail walking storybook path and many peachy deals on peach products.

Our guests will enjoy special music from:

Klinger McFry, Saturday from 12:30-4:30 p.m.: Americana music has a new name and that name is "Klinger-McFry". Playing songs that range from Hank Williams Sr. to Fleetwood Mac, the band puts their own twist on classic songs from all genres of music.

Across the Pond, Sunday from 12:30-4:30 p.m.: Across the Pond is a local Celtic trio entertaining crowds of all ages throughout the northeast and into Canada. They perform traditional and contemporary songs and tunes. This high-energy band also performs hauntingly beautiful slow airs, love songs & ballads.

Be sure to join us for our most popular event of the year! Hollabaugh’s is located at 545 Carlisle Road, Biglerville, PA 17307. Visit for a full listing of their upcoming events and classes or call 717-677-8412 for more information.

Carol Cogliano is the Director of Events at Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. which is located at 545 Carlisle Road, Biglerville, PA 17307. Visit for a full listing of their upcoming events and classes or call 717-677-8412 for more information.

Read other articles by Carol Cogliano