Give these orange beauties the TLC they deserve.

It’s nearly my favorite season in Colorado: peach season! The juicy orbs of deliciousness that grow on my state’s western slope in late summer truly taste like sunshine and happiness, and all that is good and right in this world. Because I love these perfect peaches so much, I tend to get a little overzealous when I finally see them in the store and often buy more than I can realistically eat, which leads to the problem of too many peaches, too little time (and room in my stomach) to enjoy them.

The obvious solution here is to turn my past-due peaches into jams, smoothies, compotes and other fruity concoctions. But what if I want to savor them as nature intended—whole, raw and dripping in tangy-sweet juicy goodness? Turns out, there are simple steps I can take to prolong the life of these magical stone fruits and ensure I’m eating them at their very best. Here, three food experts explain.

How to Store Ripe Peaches

If you find yourself with a perfectly ripe peach, and for whatever reason, you’re just not ready to chow it, stick it in the fridge in a loosely sealed plastic bag, says Jenny Friedman, Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian. “My go-to is loosely twisting a thin produce bag from the grocery store and popping that in the produce drawer,” she explains.

The colder temps will slow down the fruit’s natural ripening process, and you can keep your peaches in the fridge for up to about 5 days, says Toby Amidor, New York-based registered dietitian and author of Smart Meal Prep for Beginners. However, keep in mind the cold air can dehydrate the peaches, so watch out for wrinkles, advises Claudia Sidoti, head chef for HelloFresh. If you notice wrinkles on a refrigerated peach, you should try and consume it as soon as possible or throw it in the freezer for future use (more on that option below).

How to Store Unripe Peaches

If your peach is nowhere near perfect ripeness, and you’re eager to enjoy it, place it in a sealed paper bag for 1 to 3 days until ripe, advises Amidor. “Peaches (and other fruits like bananas, avocados) emit a gas called ethylene that hastens the ripening process,” explains Friedman. “When the peaches are sealed in a bag, the ethylene also gets trapped and that can make them ripen faster.” Keep in mind that ethylene is present even when the peaches are not sealed up tight, and because the gas is not fruit specific, it can affect other nearby fruits. “Watch out if you have a collection in your fruit bowl,” says Markowitz, “as avocados, bananas, and other stone fruits might end up ripening faster than usual.”   

If your peaches are firm to the touch and you’re NOT yet chomping at the bit to chomp them, simply store them at room temperature (separate from other fruits) and they should ripen naturally within 3 to 5 days. “The counter is a perfect spot,” says Friedman.

How to Store Cut Peaches

If you cut up your peach and can’t consume the whole thing at once, you can brush it with a citrus or acidic fruit (like lemon or orange juice) which will help prevent oxidation, says Amidor.

Just know this: as soon as you slice a peach, the oxidation can start degrading the vitamins, so for this reason, larger slices are better and whenever possible, slice it as close to your eating time as possible, says Amidor.

How to Freeze Fresh Peaches

If you have WAY too many peaches than you could reasonably eat in a week (or perhaps you want to enjoy their deliciousness well beyond their short-lived summer season), you may consider freezing them. First, slice your ripe beauties and freeze them on a baking sheet, says Friedman. Once firmly frozen, transfer them into a plastic bag and stick them back in your freezer. They should keep well for weeks.