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Oranges: Navel »« Melons: Rock melon, Cantaloupe

Nectarines

Prunus persica


Description

Nectarines and peaches are very similar due to being the same species, just different cultivars or subspecies. Essentially, a nectarine is just a fuzzless peach: though some believe it originates from a cross between a peach and a plum, the nectarine’s lack of fuzz actually comes from a recessive gene. It’s sometimes even possible to find nectarines and peaches growing on the same tree.

Nectarines and peaches are often divided into two varieties: freestone, where the stone slips out easily from the flesh, and clingstone, where the stone adheres to the flesh and has to be cut out. In both types of fruit, the flesh can be either white or yellow, depending on the variety.

Generally speaking, nectarines tend to be slightly smaller and sweeter than peaches, but this is by no means a hard-and-fast rule.

Nectarines are a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, niacin, and fibre.

Nectarines soften but don’t ripen off the tree, so choose ones that are already ripe – they’ll give slightly to gentle pressure. Peaches and nectarines are highly perishable, so only buy as many as you need, and store at room temperature for up to three days.

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History

Nectarines and peaches originate in China, where they’ve been cultivated for almost as long as civilisation in China has existed. They were known to be a favourite food of emperors, a symbol for long life, and are mentioned in Chinese writings from as far back as the 10th century BC.

Though the peach has a long, well-documented history, there’s no mention of nectarines by pre-Christian authors. The first known reference is by 16th century Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon, who in his history and description of Peru described the caimito fruit as being as ‘large as a nectarine’.

Uses

Nectarines can be used anywhere you’d use any other stonefruit, such as in crumbles, cobblers, and tarts. Adding chopped nectarine to a salsa gives it a sweet, tropical kick.

Try nectarines in a salad or on bruschetta with rocket and a salty cheese like feta or grilled halloumi.

Facts

Because you can’t guarantee that a nectarine tree will grow from a nectarine stone, if you buy a nectarine tree from the garden centre it’s likely that a nectarine branch was grafted onto the rootstock.



Oranges: Navel »« Melons: Rock melon, Cantaloupe

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