Start With Fresh, Ripe Peaches
Start with fresh, ripe peaches. If you're going to eat them raw, make sure they have some give to them and even feel a bit soft. Slightly firmer peaches—those that might have a bit too much bite for eating raw—are perfect to use in baked goods like peach pie, since they will hold their shape a bit when cooked.
There are two ways or approaches to slicing peaches: peeling and then slicing or slicing and then peeling; both are covered here.
Peel the Peaches, If You Like
If you like, peel the peaches whole. If, however, you'd rather slice unpeeled peaches (even if only to peel the peaches after they've been sliced), skip to step 4.
Why would you choose one method over another? If you only have 2 or 3 peaches to peel, it's easy and quick enough to slice them and then peel them. If, however, you're working with larger numbers, you may find it goes much faster to go through the process of peeling them whole, even though it can sound like a bit of a hassle: it goes much more quickly than peeling the individual slices.
How to Slice a Peeled Peach
If working with whole peeled peaches, work with one peach at a time. Working over a large bowl to catch any juices, hold the peach in your hand and, using a sharp paring knife, make a cut down to the pit. Then cut parallel to the first cut 1/2 inch (or desired thickness) over, also to the pit.
Flick the blade of your knife in the direction of the first slice, the segment will come away easily. Repeat with remaining fruit. Discard the pit.
How to Slice an Unpeeled Peach
If slicing an unpeeled peach, start by cutting it in half all the way around. Hold each half of the cut peach and twist the halves in opposite directions. This action will loosen the pit. Pull the peach halves apart and remove the pit. Most peaches sold fresh in the U.S. are cling-free, meaning the pit will pop right out; if you've happened upon a clingstone peach, you may need to dig the pit out with a spoon.
Cut the peach halves into slices or thick wedges, if you prefer. If you want them peeled, it's easy enough to run a paring knife between the flesh and the peel of each wedge or slice.
How to Peel Peach Slices
Use a paring knife to cut off the peel of each wedge or slice—on truly ripe peaches the peel will come off quite easily.
Sliced peaches are perfect for fruit salads or tossed salads, and they are scrumptious on top of yogurt, cereal, or ice cream.