Can You Eat Peach Skin?

Why you might want to think twice before biting into that juicy summer peach.

bowl of peaches with leaves

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

A perfectly-ripe, sweet, and juicy peach is practically synonymous with summer. There's nothing like biting into a just-plucked from the orchard fruit that's so plump with juices, they run down your arm as you eat.

But can you—and, more importantly, should you—eat a peach's uniquely fuzzy skin? Here’s what you need to know before you reach for the ultimate tastes-like-summer fruit. 

Why Is Peach Skin Fuzzy, Anyway? 

First things first, why do peaches look different from other stone fruits like nectarines and plums? That signature peach fuzz is actually the fruit’s natural defense mechanism: Hundreds of tiny hairs protect the delicate flesh from insects and excess water. 

Is Peach Skin Edible? 

Just like peach flesh, the skin of a peach is edible and nontoxic. So yes, you can eat peach skin.

However, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) usually avoid high-fructose fruits like peaches, apples, and cherries because they can exacerbate symptoms of the gastrointestinal disorder. But peach skin is safe to eat for people without any digestive issues.

So Then, Why Do so Many Recipes Call for Peeled Peaches? 

The reason is textural: Peeling peaches allows the delicate and silky flesh of the fruit to shine without the tougher skin.

From classic desserts like Peach Pie and Fresh Peach Ice Cream to savory dishes like Tomato, Peach, and Corn Salad, there are a lot of popular peach recipes that call for the fruit to be peeled.

Are There Other Reasons To Avoid Eating Peach Skin? 

That said, peaches are on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of produce that generally contains the highest amount of pesticides. And when fruits and vegetables are treated with pesticides, the skins tend to have a higher concentration of those chemicals than the flesh. So there is an argument for avoiding eating the skin of conventionally-grown peaches. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the fruit, or even peel it before you eat. Instead, you can buy USDA-certified organic peaches, which greatly reduces the exposure to pesticide residue. 

Are There Benefits to Eating Peach Skin?

Peaches do have a lot of nutritional perks—including fiber and antioxidant compounds—and the highest concentrations of these healthy benefits are the skin, rather than the flesh.

That means that when you peel a peach, you’re also stripping away many nutritional perks. So one thing to consider is that if you do want to maximize fruit’s natural health benefits, including fiber, vitamin A, and antioxidant compounds, it’s best to eat the skin in addition to the flesh.

The Bottom Line: Can You Eat Peach Skin? 

While there are pros and cons to eating the skin of everyone’s favorite summer fruit, opting to buy skin-on organic peaches gives you the best of both worlds. Going organic not only delivers higher concentrations of fiber and antioxidants than eating the flesh alone, but it also reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides when compared to conventional peaches.

If buying organic produce isn’t in the budget, the next-best thing is to visit farmers' markets to seek out vendors that might use organic practices, but who might not have gone through the USDA’s rigorous (and expensive) certification process.

Regardless of where you buy the fruit, the fact that they’re on the Dirty Dozen list means it’s always a good idea to give them an extra thorough washing before you bite into that perfect summer peach.

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