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Are peaches pink or yellow?

Are peaches pink or yellow?

Peaches come in a range of colors from pale yellow to deep orange, with some varieties even showing pink hues. The interior flesh is most commonly yellow or white. While the exterior coloring depends on the cultivar, the interior flesh color depends on the amount of carotenoids present. Let’s take a closer look at why peaches display this range of colors.

Peach Origins and Cultivars

Peaches (Prunus persica) originated in China over 4,000 years ago and were brought to North America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Over centuries of cultivation, hundreds of peach varieties have emerged with diverse characteristics including size, flavor, texture, hardiness, and color.

Some common yellow peach cultivars include:

  • Elberta – very large, firm, juicy, sweet, freestone
  • Redhaven – medium, aromatic, semi-freestone
  • Suncrest – large, firm, very sweet, freestone

Some common white peach cultivars include:

  • Babcock – medium, white flesh, semi-freestone
  • Sentry – large, very sweet, clingstone
  • Snow King – small, sweet, freestone

Peach Skin Pigments

The external color of a peach is determined by pigments called anthocyanins and carotenoids found in the fruit skin and flesh. Anthocyanins produce red, purple, and blue hues while carotenoids produce yellow, orange, and red colors.

Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that belong to the flavonoid group of polyphenols. They act as antioxidants in plants to protect them from environmental stresses. The concentration and type of anthocyanins present affects the final color. A higher amount creates a deeper, richer color.

Some peach varieties accumulate more anthocyanins, resulting in purple/red skin and pink flesh. This is controlled genetically but can also be influenced by environmental factors like sunlight exposure, temperature, soil nutrition, etc.

Carotenoids like beta-carotene are fat-soluble pigments that also act as antioxidants. Peaches contain high levels of carotenoids, creating their familiar yellow and orange hues. Darker orange peaches contain higher concentrations of carotenoids.

Interior Peach Flesh Color

In addition to the exterior skin pigments, the flesh color inside a peach is also influenced by the presence and concentration of carotenoids. Yellow-fleshed peaches contain more carotenoids than white-fleshed varieties. However, the flesh color is not completely correlated with carotenoid content or flavor.

For example, some white-fleshed peaches are very sweet and flavorful despite having lower carotenoid levels. A general guideline is that more intensely colored yellow/orange peaches will be higher in carotenoids, but white peaches can also have great eating quality.

How Peach Color Affects Flavor

While not universally true, peach color can be a general indicator of flavor and sugar levels:

  • Pale yellow peaches tend to be lower in sugars with mild flavor.
  • Rich golden yellow peaches are moderate to high in sugar with full peach flavor.
  • Orange peaches are usually very sweet with intense flavor.
  • White peaches can range from mild to very sweet depending on cultivar.

This is because carotenoids contribute to the sweet, fruity aroma of peaches. Higher concentrations equal stronger “peachiness”. Anthocyanins may also influence flavor. However, appearance is not the only factor. Factors like maturity, cultivar, and growing conditions also affect sugar levels and flavor.

Taste and fruit quality should take priority over color when selecting fresh peaches. Try different varieties and choose ones that are aromatic, free of blemishes, and yield slightly to gentle pressure.

Nutritional Value of Differently Colored Peaches

In addition to contributing to color and flavor, anthocyanins and carotenoids are beneficial antioxidants. Peaches with more intense exterior and interior color typically contain higher levels of these compounds.

For example, blood-fleshed peaches gain their dramatic color from high anthocyanin content. This provides exceptional antioxidant capacity.

Yellow-orange peaches rich in carotenoids also provide significant antioxidant benefits. In fact, peaches have some of the highest carotenoid levels among common fruits.

However, even white-fleshed peaches contain beneficial phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants. So while deeply pigmented peaches may have an edge nutritionally, all types offer health benefits.


In summary, peach color ranges from pale yellow to deep orange/red due to the pigments anthocyanins and carotenoids. While color can guide selection, flavor and eating quality remain most important when choosing fresh peaches. All types provide beneficial antioxidants, with deeply colored red/orange peaches containing the highest levels. The best peaches have great aroma, sweet flavor, and a balance of softness and texture when ripe.