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Nectarines, like peaches, probably originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome.
Nectarines were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and were introduced to America by the Spanish.
The word ‘nectarine’ means sweet, as nectar, and this is very likely the obvious origin of the name.
Today, California grows over 95 percent of the nectarines produced in the United States.
Smooth Skinned Nectarous Nectarines
Commonly showcased side by side with peaches, nectarines are a similar, but yet different fruit. The best way to identify the difference between a nectarine and peach is by the lack of fuzz on the nectarine.
Nectarines are smaller and smooth skinned golden yellow with large blushes of red.
Types of Nectarines
There are more than 100 varieties of nectarine, in freestone and clingstone varieties. In freestone types the flesh separates from the ‘pit’ easily, while clingstone types cling to the ‘pit.’ Nectarines are more delicate than peaches and bruise very easily.
Nectarines are a good source of vitamin C and low in calories with no sodium, no fat or cholesterol. Nectarines provide twice the vitamin A, more vitamin C and much more potassium than peaches.
Nectarines can be used and prepared in the same ways as peaches, with no need to peel because they have no fuzz. Leave the skins on when making pies, cobblers and fresh fruit salads.
Look for nectarines that are fragrant and yield slightly to gentle pressure with your fingers. Avoid fruit that is green or hard. Ripen nectarines on your kitchen counter or in a paper bag overnight. The fruit can be refrigerated for up to five days. Nectarines can be eaten fresh as is, with sugar and cream or used as a substitute in any recipe that calls for peaches including ice cream, pies, jam, shortcakes and mixed fruit.
When ripe, the nectarine’s smooth skin is a brilliant golden yellow with generous blushes of red.
Nectarines are wonderful eaten out of hand and can be used in salads, a variety of fresh and cooked desserts and as a garnish for many hot and cold dishes.
Nectarines can be used in the same ways as peaches, except if someone peels a peach because they object to eating the fuzz, they do not need to peel a nectarine. The nectarine skins can also be left on when making pies, cobblers and fresh fruit salads, etc.
Nectarines reach their peak season in July and August. They combine peach and plum characteristics. The color of a nectarine should be rich and bright.
If a nectarine is too hard, allow it to ripen at room temperature for a few days. Avoid very hard dull looking nectarines.
There are more than 150 varieties of nectarines worldwide.
Nectarines taste best consumed “warm” from the tree. Often jam is made out of it because they can’t be stored fresh.
Nectarines are mostly eaten with the skin as peaches are mostly peeled.
Nectarines contain a fair amount of vitamins A and C.
- Nectarines are a good source of vitamin C.
- Nectarines are low in calories with no sodium, fat or cholesterol.
- Nectarines can be used as a substitute in any recipe that calls for peaches.
Nectarine Banana Smoothie
Fresh nectarines pair up with bananas for a saint of a smoothie! Vanilla yogurt, crushed ice and grenadine liquify.
- 3 nectarines, peeled and de-stoned
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
- 2 tablespoons grenadine
- Crushed ice
Place the nectarines and bananas into a blender along with the yogurt and whisk it all together until it has a good consistency.
Next, fill the glasses a quarter with crushed ice, and pour over the grenadine. Top the glass up the rest of the way with the smoothie mixture, and enjoy. Makes 2 servings.
Nectarines with Port
Nectarines are so delicious when combined with port. Try them in this cinnamon laced nectarine dessert dish.
- 1 cup port (or other sweet red wine of choice)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 nectarines, not peeled, divided in half
- Fresh mint for garnish, if desired
Combine port or other sweet red wine, sugar and cinnamon stick. Cook over medium-high heat for ten minutes or until reduced to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; discard cinnamon.
Meanwhile divide six (not-peeled), sliced nectarines among six dessert dishes. Spoon port mixture over nectarines and garnish with fresh mint (if desired). Makes six servings.
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