I live in Romeo, Michigan and our growers out here raise the red haven peaches, which I think are the best. I would like to share these peaches with friends back in my home state of Iowa. What is the best way for me to mail the peaches to them? I am willing to send them 2 day air or priority, but I need help with what to look for in the peach where they wont turn soft or mushy by the time they get there and how to pack them for shipping. Any help would be appreciated

The tendency is to send fruit that is too ripe.

Generally, the ripening sequence of a typical peach fruit on the tree is

1) rounding/filling of fruit so that the suture (ridge) is less prominent and the two halves of the fruit are fairly equal.

2) change of background skin color from green so that it has some yellow. This is the time fruit is picked for wholesale market. Start of softening detected with pressure gauge, but generally too firm to detect softness with fingers

3) fruit softening now can be detected with fingers, the background color will develop more yellow (some varieties have some green in the background even when fully ripe, start of aroma

Firmness Description
12 to 14 lb picking for long distance wholesale market
8 to 12 lb soft enough for transport to retail store, probably no aroma yet, little or
no give when squeezed slightly
6 to 8 lb soft enough to feel slight give, but no apparent mark left, has some aroma
still crunchy
4 to 6 lb squeezing will leave finger marks, aroma apparent, no longer crunchy, local transport only
3 lb or softer handling will leave finger marks, optimum eating point, must be handled very gently
Firmness tested with a commercial fruit testing pressure gauge fitted with 8 millimeter tip (5/16" pear tip).

The speed of softening depends on the temperature.

You would want to send fruit that have little or no give when squeezed lightly. Most of the fruit sold at roadside tend to be in the 2 to 4 lb range or even softer, which would not be firm enough for you. You may be able to make special arrangements with the grower to get firmer fruit. Don't worry. The fruit will develop aroma as they ripen. The sugar content will not improve once picked, but the acidity decreases to give a flavorful sugar/acid balance.

The local grower may be able to get a specialized fruit shipping box for you--possibly at a farm market supply. You also may be able to get a peach box from your local chain store. Pack the fruit so that they are protected from outside bumps and kept from moving within the box...put foam or newspaper around the fruit. Don't put plastic directly on the fruit...they need to breath.