Reader Missy asks what the difference is between freestone and clingstone peaches. That’s an excellent question, Missy. As the names imply, the fundamental difference between the two is the degree to which the pit (stone) clings to the flesh of the peach. Freestone pits all but fall out of the fruit while clingstone pits have to be cut out. Generally speaking, freestones are better for simple eating since the flesh tends to be very tender and juicy. Clingstones as a rule have firmer flesh and that makes them better for canning, drying and pie making since the flesh doesn’t break down as much when it’s heated or stored for a long period of time. Still because they can be such a hassle to process at home, most home cooks tend to avoid clingstones even for pies or home canning projects. Industrial canners have special equipment for removing the pits.
White peaches in my experience are often clingstones, but in truth color isn’t an indication of whether peaches are clingstones or freestones. Almost all commercially canned peaches are clingstones after all, and peaches in tin cans are almost universally yellow. It must just be a quirk of the vendors at the farmer’s market I go to. Thanks for the question, Missy!