Unripe, Ripe, Overripe: How to Pick and Enjoy the Best Stone Fruit

Unripe, Ripe, Overripe: How to Pick and Enjoy the Best Stone Fruit

Before I move on to this little guide that explains how to enjoy the best luscious stone fruit of the season, some quick announcements.

Farm Stand Open!

Our farm stand will be open this Saturday, August 19th, from 10 am to 2 pm. Stop on by! 

We are going to aim to be open most Saturdays for the next few months while the harvest season keeps rolling in. You can always check the very top of our website to check the next date will be open.

Damson Plums

New this week, damson plums! 
These little blue beauties are one of my favorite European plums, which are all just starting to ripen into the harvest time. Edible Monterey has a great article about European plums by Jamie Collins in their summer edition.
The article features photos from our farm, check it out!

You Pick Roses

Reservations are open for the you pick flower field, this Saturday and next. Sign up here.

Munstead Wood roses

Perfecting the Art of Picking Ripe Stone Fruit from the Tree

Many people ask me, how do I know when to pick my peaches, plums, apricots or nectarines? When are they ripe? I think we have all had the experience of buying beautiful plums or peaches in the market, only to come home to find them rock hard and inedible.

Stone fruit can be tricky to get perfectly ripe, and sour hard fruit is almost as sad as spoiled and overripe, so here is what I have learned from ten years in this orchard. Don’t worry, I will write about apples and pears, the pomme fruits, next month.

On the tree, stone fruit seems to ripen slowly and then all at once. Color is the first indicator of ripe fruit. As small green fruits swell into maturity, they develop their final colors. Humans and most primates have uniquely developed color vision, with three color sensitive light receptors in their eyes instead of the two most other mammals have. Scientists posit we developed this precise color vision specifically to detect when fruit is ripe and ready. It’s one of our innate superpowers!

The other sign that stone fruit is ripe to pick is when the first few start dropping from the tree. That’s a great sign to get in there and start harvesting. Ripe fruit should detach easily from the branch with a gentle tug or twist. Unripe fruit will cling to the tree more tightly. I generally will make 2-3 passes over eight to ten days to harvest a tree and get all the fruit at their perfect stage of ripeness.

harvest of stone fruit in back of atv

Selecting Ripe Stone Fruit at the Market

Stone fruit at the farmers markets or store can be a bit tricky. Growers generally harvest their stone fruit somewhat hard, otherwise it immediately bruises and spoils during transportation.  So, straight from the store, these fruits can be sour, hard, and not very good. I definitely have bit into a sour plum and then immediately threw it away in the past when I was less knowledgeable - what a waste!

 So instead, be patient with your fruits. If they are hard, don't despair. Put them on the counter or store them in a brown paper bag at room temperature. Once the fruits are slightly soft to the touch, they will be much tastier and sweet to eat.

Recommended Reading

I am an unabashed fan of Emergence Magazine, and was deeply moved by an article they published this week, Animals in the Room by Marie Challenger.

We don’t miss the forest and the animals as a painting or a backdrop. We miss them as familiars, as kin. We miss that rich, diverse community of beings. And we miss them not because of some fanciful, sentimental anthropomorphizing, some intellectual weakness in our characters. We miss them because anyone who develops deep knowledge of other species by living alongside them for years realizes something both obvious and essential: we are not the only lives that matter.

A profile of a llama head


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