Summer's Bounty: Nectarines

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The thirtysomething man at the grocery store seemed distressed. I was packing up the last of my organic yellow squash as he wheeled his cart toward the produce manager.

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“I want some nectarines,” he said, “and I haven’t found a sweet one all summer.”

Not exactly shocking, I thought. This particular supermarket has a limited organic produce section, which doesn’t include the man’s favorite fruit—and the nonorganic nectarines, on sale for 99¢ a pound, could have filled in nicely for shot-puts at the Beijing Olympics.

“Try the farmer’s market,” I told him. “You’ll be amazed at the flavors and varieties you’ll find.”

The sad part? He didn’t know there were at least three wonderful farmer’s markets within reasonable driving distance.

So, let’s talk nectarines: They come in several varieties—not just the yellow ones that billow out of displays in your local supermarket.

White nectarines are a personal favorite, and you want to select ones that are firm and retain their crispness. The more common yellow variety is juicier, so look for fruit that “gives a little” when you exert slight pressure. If it’s too soft or downright mushy, it’s on its way to decomp.

FYI: Color is not a sign of ripeness. Don’t judge a nectarine on its skin’s redness, but the uniformity of its yellow color. This is one of the most common shopping errors.

And when you bring them home from your local natural and organic food store, let nectarines ripen at room temperature. Only then should they be moved to the fridge.

As for nutritional value, each fruit contains 2 g fiber, 250 mg potassium, 8% of your daily vitamin A requirement, antioxidants, vitamin B and no fat or sodium.

Tune in tomorrow for a superb recipe for Grilled California Nectarine and Butter Lettuce Salad.

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