Let’s Talk Brix

Measuring the sweetness of summer’s best peaches

July 15, 2022  |   by Jess Thomson

You know instinctively, when you bite into a peak-of-season peach, that you’ve hit the sweetness jackpot. But did you know that growers and scientists use an approachable, informative system that can actually quantify the sweetness in each peach?

Grocers talk about fruit having a certain number of Brix (often simplified to °Bx). Technically, each number, or degree, stands for a percentage of sugar by mass, usually measured in grams. The higher the number is, the more sugar there is in the fruit. When measuring Brix levels, we rely on a 200-year-old scientific method that tells us how much dissolved sugar is in a fruit’s natural juices (or in soda, or wine, but for now, we’ll stick to peach juice). While early calculations relied on complex equations to derive the juice’s specific gravity, and farmers could translate that to sweetness, today, growers and grocers use tools called refractometers, which look at how light travels through a fruit’s juices. It’s as easy as depositing a few drops of juice onto a prism, and reading the resulting number in a viewfinder or a digital screen.

Growers track the Brix of their fruit in the orchard. The closer a peach is to being perfectly ripe, the higher the Brix number. (A Brix level of 12 or 13 usually indicates a juicy, flavorful, aromatic ripe peach.) Some orchards pick peaches before they’re ripe, which means they’re less likely to get bruised during travel, but they never reach peak sweetness.

The end result is Metropolitan Market’s Peach-O-Rama, when we sell the most perfect fruit available. We know it’s the best because we follow our peaches’ Brix levels right up until our fruit goes home with you. During Peach-O-Rama, we measure and post Brix levels each day, for all the different peach varieties we sell. At peak season, our peaches can measure up to 18 degrees Brix. The posted Brix number tells you you’re taking home the best quality peaches available, at the height of their sweetness and flavor, and we can actually prove it.

Peach-O-Rama is a beloved seasonal tradition that we’ve been celebrating each summer for more than two decades. It was inspired by our founder, and it doesn’t feel like summer until Puget Sound’s favorite peaches arrive on our shelves.

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