From a genetic standpoint, peaches are classified by flesh texture as either melting, non-melting or stony hard. Melting flesh peaches become softer as they ripen and will actually “melt in your mouth” when they are fully mature. Most people prefer this type for fresh eating out of hand. Non-melting flesh peaches remain firm in texture when fully mature and never become melting. The texture of these has been referred to as “rubbery” or “chewy”. Non-melting flesh peaches typify most peaches that are used for commercial canning. Some “freestone, melting” types are canned but they represent a very small proportion of canned peaches. The stony hard flesh type is very firm, even crispy when fully ripe.
Most of the peaches on our farm are melting flesh. There are both freestone and cling of this classification. Currently around Labor Day we have both non-melting(cling) and melting. [But keep in mind that this years harvests have ALL been 2 weeks early] Our favorite family peach is a non-melting Amber Jam and the Baby Gold. The Amber Jam variety froze this year where we are currently picking the Baby Golds. Great tasting! Great tasting! We hope you stop by and ask for a taste of the Baby Gold.
Michigan State University’s article on melting and non-melting follows. Keep in mind that MSU Experimental Stations are geared up for the canning industry -that we (state) once had! They only have been working on categorizing market (fresh) peaches for the last 10 years or so.
Melting flesh peaches (left). Melting flesh peaches have flesh that become soft over time when canned. They tend to have ragged edges when sliced during processing. Melting flesh types can be clingstone or freestone. (The pits of freestone peaches are easy to separate from the flesh).
Non-melting peaches (right). Non-melting peaches remain firm after canning. They are selected to have orange flesh color with no red, and a distinctive taste a little like apricots. Most commercial canned peaches are non-melting types. Non-melting types are less subject to bruising during harvest than other peaches. All non-melting types are clingstone, meaning the flesh adheres to the pit when ripe. There are many intermediate types between melting and non-melting types. Peach breeders have been utilizing a genetic characteristic called stony hard. Fruit with a stony hard gene are very slow to soften or even crunchy.