Peaches come in a variety of colors, sizes and skin textures, although all peach trees are the same species: Prunus persica. The way the stone adheres to the fruit's flesh is an important feature among peach varietals, which are the result of selective cross-breeding. Peaches are classified as cling-free or free-stone, when the stone is easily detached from the fruit; semi-cling and semi-free, when the stone is slightly adhered to the flesh; and cling, when the stone is firmly adhered to the flesh. Cling-free peaches include varietals with white flesh, yellow flesh and nectarines.
Yellow Flesh Varietals
Redhaven is a popular cling-free varietal in North America, featuring a red to deep red over yellow skin and a kidney shape. The varietal, which often ripens in mid-July, is used as a reference to the ripening times of other peach types. Other varietals that ripen before Redhaven include Harrow Diamond, Harbelle and Early Loring. Later ripening varietals include Reliance, which is ripe about five days after Redhaven; John Boy II, ripening up to two weeks later; Redkist and Scarlet Prince, about 21 days later; Cresthaven, Messina and Biscoe, often ready one month later; and Ouachita Gold, Parade and Victoria, which ripen from late August to early September.
White Flesh Varietals
Cling-free white flesh varietals include Nectar, which has a kidney shape and blushed pink to red skin; Saturn, a round varietal with red over greenish yellow skin; White Lady, kidney-shaped and red over light yellow skin; and Snowbrite, which has a completely red skin. Other cling-free varietals include the round-shaped Klondike White and Snow Giant, and the kidney-shaped varietals Raritan Rose, the pinkish red over yellow-orange Blushing Star, as well as Sugar Giant, Lady Nancy and Snow King. White Hale and White Star produce large fruit, which ripen from middle to late July. The varietals Melba, Belle of Georgia and Palace produce smaller fruits.
Although they have a distinct name, nectarines are also peaches, but they have a distinct smooth skin. Cling-free nectarines include Sunglo, a kidney-shaped yellow flesh variety; the bright scarlet red and yellow Redgold, often ripe in middle August; the round-shaped Fantasia, which has red skin with a glossy finish; as well as the yellow flesh varietals Lexington and Stark Ovation.
Uses of Cling-Free Peaches
Cling-free peaches are popular in home orchards in the food industry, because their stones are easier to remove in comparison to cling, semi-cling and semi-free varietals. Cling-free varietals are used to make jams, juices, preserves and as an ingredient in yogurts, desserts, cakes, cookies and other foods. The United States produces 20 percent of the world's peach supply. Italy is the second largest producer, with about 16 percent of the world supply.
- Texas Agricultural Extension Service: Home Fruit Production - Stone Fruit; Larry A. Stein, Calvin G. Lyons and John Lipe
- University of Kentucky Extension: Peach Cultivar Performance; Dwight Wolfe and John Strang
- "The Peach: Botany, Production and Uses"; Desmond R. Layne; 2008
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Peach
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images