The Naked Nectarine

August 3rd, 2009

nectarineThere’s an old adage that celebrates the nectarine as "half a peach, half a plum and one helluva’ fruit!’ Yet, the nectarine is actually a genetic twist on just the peach — whose signature fuzzy skin is a dominant trait missing in the (naked) nectarine. It may be lacking in fuzz, but this sleek stone fruit goes down easy. Getting your Vitamin A and C has never been so succulent.

The nectarine was first spotted in China, before arriving in Europe in the early 1600′s. In the late 18th century, Darwin noted that a peach tree could grow both nectarines and peaches, even observing one plant that briefly grew half-peach half-nectarine fruit. Although anyone can grow their own nectarines, here’s a tip: don’t plant almond trees nearby. The two species are closely related and will crossbreed – resulting in nothing but bitter nuts.

Nectarines are at their best when freshly picked and eaten "hot’ off the tree. But be careful not to let them fall. Without the fuzz found on peaches to protect their vulnerably soft center, the nectarine tends to bruise easily. Out of season, nectarines are best preserved in jams or chutneys. But while they’re at their peak, go to your local farm or market and pick up some nectarines to toss in our Sweet Fruit and Nut Salad or our Summer Breakfast Sundae.