Nectarine: The Hairless Peach
You may wonder what the difference is between peaches and nectarines. The answer is, not much! Nectarines are in the same family as peaches but are thought to contain a recessive allele (an alternative form of a gene) that results in smooth, fuzz-free skin. In fact, when a peach is cross-pollinated or self-pollinated, resulting seeds that carry the recessive allele for smooth skin will develop into nectarines, whereas the seeds that carry the dominant allele will become peaches. In essence, nectarines and peaches can be thought of as siblings. They belong to the same family but each have their own identity.
How itâ€™s grown
- The nectarine likely originated about 2,000 years ago in China.
- Over 90% of domestically grown nectarines are from California and are available from late April through late August. Chilean nectarines are available from late December through early March.
How to shop for it
- Look for fruit that is plump and fairly firm but not rock hard.
- Ripe nectarines will have a little give when gentle pressure is applied and a sweet smell.
- Look for smooth skin with a golden yellow color and pink or red â€śblush.â€ť
How to store it
- Nectarines can be left at room temperature over 2-3 days to ripen or can be placed in a brown paper bag to expedite ripening.
- Ripe nectarines should be stored in the crisper of a refrigerator or in a plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to prepare it
Nectarines can be used and prepared much like peaches. However, a nectarine will have a thinner skin and therefore does not need to be peeled.
Nectarines are a stone fruit, either freestone or clingstone, which means the pit or â€śstoneâ€ť will need to be removed from the center of the fruit. The stone can be removed in one of two ways. For freestone fruits, cut the nectarine in half from top to bottom along the seam and lift out the stone. Another option is to cut the nectarine into quarters or eighths, cutting toward the pit and lifting off the sections. Cut next to the pit if the fruit will not pull away easily. Cut nectarines should be used immediately to avoid discoloration.
How to eat it
- Nectarines can be eaten raw or cooked.
- Slice them and add to cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles or even yogurt.
- Nectarines can be added to fruit salads and salsas as well.
- Grill nectarines: cut them in half and remove the pits; brush them with vegetable oil and grill over medium to high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Bake peeled, halved, pitted fruit cut-side up in a baking pan. Sprinkle with honey and cinnamon and cook until tender.
- Low fat
- No saturated fat
- Good source of vitamin C