You will often see peaches labeled as “freestone” or “clingstone” when shopping for fruit. These terms refer to different types of peaches, not specifically to different strains of the fruit. Many varieties of peaches exist, just like apples and other fruits, but most varieties of peaches are similar in terms of looks and flavor and you’ll rarely see a specific name (other than white or yellow) mentioned. Freestone peaches have pits, or stones, that are not strongly attached to the flesh of the peach. They are either loose within the center of the peach or pop out easily with just a little pressure. Clingstone peaches have pits that are very strongly attached to the flesh of the fruit and it is almost impossible to remove them without losing a significant piece of the peach along with it.
Both types of peaches are excellent for eating out of hand, but freestone peaches are more desirable for most baking applications since they are much easier to work with and slice. Since the pits come out readily, you can slice and serve perfect peaches that have no bruises or blemishes. Clingstone peaches, in addition to being eaten out of hand, are also frequently used for preserves and jams, where it doesn’t matter if the fruit is bruised trying to pry the pit out of the center. Other fruits come in freestone and clingstone varieties, including apricots, nectarines and plums, but peaches are the fruit most commonly associated with these labels.