Peach Equivalents and Substitutions

How many peaches do you need for your recipe?

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© 2006 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

The fuzzy peach is most closely identified with the Deep South, particularly Georgia. Its juicy, sweet, fragrant flesh is a favorite in pies, pastries, and desserts, but creative chefs have found marvelous uses for the peach in a variety of savory dishes, including those with poultry, pork, and seafood.

In many recipes, the ingredient list specifies peach measurements in pounds, or if sliced, chopped, or pureed, the amount is usually in cups.

But how do you know how many peaches are in a pound, or how many peaches equal the amount of sliced peaches? Maybe the recipe calls for a peach puree. All of these measurements can lead to confusion and second-guessing. You can also be stumped if the recipe stipulates fresh and you only have canned or frozen. Knowing some basic equivalents will allow you to cook and bake with whatever kind of peaches you have on hand.

Peach Weight Equivalents

If you don't own a kitchen scale, determining how many peaches are in a pound can be tricky. In general, when your recipe calls for 1 pound of peaches, you can use:

  • 3 to 4 medium peaches 
  • 2 3/4 to 3 cups sliced peaches
  • 2 1/4 cups chopped peaches
  • 2 cups puréed peaches

Of course, these equivalents are approximate since peaches range in size, but this will give you a place to start.

Converting Fresh Whole Peaches to Cups

So the peach pie you are making calls for 2 cups of sliced fresh peaches.

Just how many peaches do you need to buy? Whether you're at the grocery store or at a farmers market, staring at rows of fresh peaches, knowing some basic equivalents will help you plan for your favorite recipes.

 About 2 medium peaches 1 cup sliced peaches
 1 1/2 to 2 medium peaches 1 cup chopped peaches
 About 4 medium peaches 1 cup peach puree

Fresh to Canned, Frozen, and Dried Equivalents

Maybe peaches aren't in season, or this is a last-minute recipe and all you have are canned. Perhaps you're not a fan of the fuzzy fruit's high price tag this time of year. Whatever the reason, it can be convenient to use the canned, frozen, and dried peaches you have around the house in recipes, as long as you know how to substitute the different forms for each other.

 1 cup sliced peaches 10 ounces frozen peaches
 6 to 10 sliced peaches 1 (16-ounce) can peaches
 2 cups sliced peaches 1 (16-ounce) can peaches
 2 3/4 cups peaches 1 pound dried peaches
 5 1/4 cups cooked peaches 1 pound dried peaches

Peach Selection and Storage Tips

In addition to making sure you are using the right amount of fruit in your recipe, you'll also want to be sure your peaches are ready for cooking, meaning they are sweet, juicy, and ripe (not too hard or too mushy). Although we may see peaches in the store year-round, the peak seasonof July and August is when you will find the best-quality fruit. You want a peach that is free of any blemishes, that will give a little when gently pressed, and that has a sweet scent. 

Since peaches are very perishable, it is important that you purchase them a few days before you plan on using them.

Peaches can be stored at room temperature for three to four days—just be sure to give each piece of fruit some space so the air can circulate. If your peaches seem to be ripening too quickly, place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a day to slow down the process. If they aren't softening up quick enough, place in a paper bag punched with holes—along with an apple or banana if you like—and check them often, as they can go from hard to soft overnight. 

In most cases, nectarines can be substituted for peaches in equal measure. You may also consider apricots, plums, and pluots as a swap but the recipe will turn out quite different than intended.