Season for Nectarines May – October

Nectarines Described

Its name comes from the Greek word meaning sweet liqiud, and that it is, the nectar of a juicy ripe nectarine. This fuzz-free sister to the peach is technically a sub-species, although sometimes the same tree will bear both peaches and nectarines (if only we could all have one of those in our backyards!). The nectarine’s smooth, luscious texture and fragrant succulence are nothing short of perfection. Their taste is similar to that of a peach, although most would agree that the flesh of a nectarine is a little firmer with a tinge more acidity.

How to Buy and Store Nectarines

When shopping for nectarines, look for those that have smooth, ublemished skin that yields to slight finger pressure – not rock hard but not mushy either. Also make sure to get a whif of the fruit to ensure it is fully fragrant, indicating the nectarine was not picked before its prime. Green tinges also mean the fruit is immature, and will never reach deliciousness. Keep in mind that nectarines – and all stone fruits – don’t ripen after being picked. Be sure to avoid dull-looking nectarines with signs of shriveled skin.

When you get your nectarines home, you can keep them in the fridge for up to five days. But be sure to eat them at room temperature where they will be full flavored.

How to Cook Nectarines

While we love nectarines most out of hand, as nature intended, they can also make excellent additions to salads, salsas, and both sweet and savory concoctions. Do be advised though; they lose much of their nutritional valor in the cooking process. At breakfast, add sliced nectarines to your yogurt, cereal or oatmeal, or use as a topping for waffles, pancakes or French toast. Nectarines also make a yummy filling for crepes. Because cooking softens the fruit and enhances its sweetness, nectarines can be baked, grilled, broiled or poached. Baked nectarines pair well with chicken and ham, too. 

Though we don’t advocate peeling of a nectarine – for their is much deliciousness and nutrients in the skin – should you need to for a recipe, here’s how: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a small, shallow cross at the base of each fruit and submerge a few nectarines at a time in the boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs to a bowl of ice water and let the fruit cool briefly. The skins will slip off easily.

Health Benefits of Nectarines

Nectarines share the same health benefits with their siblings, the peaches. They provide a good dose of phytochemicals that work hard at keeping you healthy. Lutein and lycopene give nectarines their characteristic sunset-colored hues. Couple that with carotenes and flavonoids, and nectarines show promise in the prevention of heart disease, macular degeneration and cancer. Nectarines are also high in vital nutrients including niacin, thiamine, potassium and calcium. And their high fiber content makes them great for digestive issues.

Why Buy Natural and Organic Nectarines

When buying nectarines – and stone fruits in general which include peaches, apricots, plums and cherries – opting for organic is your healthiest, most wise choice. Most conventionally-grown stone fruits are coated with a fungicidal wax to extend shelf life, a chemical wax that won’t wash off. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 95.1 percent of commercial nectarines carry pesticide residues. Opt instead for locally grown, tree-ripened nectarines that will be pesticide-free and of maximum deliciousness.

image: oledoe