A Taste of Summertime
Nectarines are smooth, fuzz-free versions of their more popular cousin, the peach. These seasonal stone fruits grow on trees in warmer climates like parts of China, the southeastern U.S., and California. They appear July through September and present a firm flesh that's great for the grill, chopped up in salads, or as an after-school snack.
Nectarines do not need to be cooked or peeled to be enjoyed. A washed fruit can simply be eaten as is, either bitten into like an apple or sliced. The large inner pit is not edible and should be discarded. Nectarines are ready to eat when the flesh yields slightly when pressed and the peel in the stem cavity is no longer green.
Munching on a ripe, raw nectarine is one of the joys of eating summer fruit, though there are plenty of other things to do with this orange orb of juicy sweetness. For starters, try slicing them in half, removing the pit, and placing them directly on the hot grill. You can do this with peaches too, but nectarines prove firmer and hold up better to the heat while they caramelize the sticky sugars. Serve them warm and steaming with a scoop of ice cream, drizzled with honey and balsamic if desired.
As with other stone fruits, nectarines create wonderful jams and jellies and go great in baked applications such as hearty pies, chunky cobblers, and delicate tarts. But it's not just the dessert menu that benefits from nectarines—try this fruit in savory dishes as well. Try chopping and mixing with jalapeños for a sweet and spicy salsa, and pair with grilled pork chops (use Bellisari’s Harvest Ginger Peach, Honey Pineapple Adobo, or Blistered Jalapeńo & Fig as your perfect finishing sauces to continue the fruity taste).
Nectarines can be successfully used in a surprisingly wide range of dishes. Go sweet with pies, tarts, cobblers, and jams, or go savory with salads, grills, and stewed dishes.
When choosing this fruit, look for dark orange orbs that don't have brown or green spots. They should be firm to the touch with no soft spots and have a nice, fruity smell by the stem. Keep ripe nectarines on the counter in a cool, dry place for a few days. They will ripen more as time goes on, so don't keep your nectarines too long, since overripe stone fruit becomes mushy!
Nectarines have many good-for-you qualities starting with fiber and vitamin C. This fruit also notably contains vitamins A and B3, copper, potassium, and magnesium. It's way better to munch on a sweet, ripe nectarine for dessert than a piece of chocolate cake, and you'll get nutrients out of the deal as well.
Next time you’re buying fruit, if nectarines look and smell good, buy some! Any recipe that calls for fresh peaches should work just as well with nectarines. The firm flesh is perfect for grilling. To me, these delicious fruits taste just like summertime! Happy summer fruit munching from all of us at Bellisari’s!