Many years ago, a friend from Anderson Valley brought me a flat of peaches from Gower's the fruit stand a few mile west of Boonville. I still remember them as the best peaches I have ever tasted. The thing, is they were perfectly ripe. They were really easy to peel. The skin would just come off like it does from a blanched tomato.
I've haunted farmers markets (and returned to Gower's) ever since, and while I've certainly gotten lots of good peaches, I still remember that first box from Gower's, and I've developed this theory that the challenge in peaches isn't to find a certain variety, but to find those that are perfectly ripe.
A few years ago a woman at another fruit stand taught me a trick. She said to check the "cheeks" on the stem end, and not to buy a peach unless there was a bit of give, or softness, there. I don't manhandle 20 peaches to find those those that pass the test. I'm very gentle, and this test has proven useful.
Still, I rarely find a perfectly ripe peach. I've given up on Frog Hollow, because I almost never find one of their peaches that passes the test. My theory is that when one does the volume they are doing it gets difficult to pick them when they're really ripe.
On several occasions I've been assured that hard-as-rock peaches from various farms will soften if I leave them out on the counter, but a week later they're still hard as rocks.
Anybody else have suggerstions or inside knowledge on this subject?