Nectarines: peaches without the fuzz? Well, not exactly. Nectarines are similar to peaches, both originating in China more than 2000 years ago, and cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. They were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and were introduced to America by the Spanish. Nectarines are smaller than peaches and have a smooth golden yellow skin with shades of red. The yellow flesh often may have a pink tinge, and they have a distinct aroma and more pronounced flavor than the peach. Today, California grows most of the nectarines produced in the United States.
Summer is a great time to find fresh, ripe nectarines in the produce section. There are more than 100 varieties of nectarine, including freestone, or clingstone varieties. The freestone types separate from the pit easily, whereas the flesh of the clingstone type clings to the pit.
Like peaches, nectarines are low in calories with only about 30-40 calories each. They are also fat free and sodium-free. Each nectarine provides 1 gram of dietary fiber and is a good source of vitamins A and C. Nectarines should be stored in a loose plastic bag in the coolest part of the refrigerator (usually the fruit/produce drawer is a good spot). They generally should stay fresh for five days. You can eat them as is, slice them to use in pies or as a topping for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They make a great, naturally sweet topping for oatmeal or whole grain cereal and are also great chopped and added to salsas.
You can try them grilled as well – just cut in half, remove pit, and brush lightly with olive oil. Place flat side down onto medium hot grill. Grill for 15 minutes until golden and tender. Serve along with grilled fish or chicken.
How to pick a nice nectarine at the market:
• Look for fruit with no blemishes on the skin.
• Avoid extremely hard or dull colored fruits and instead choose nectarines that are barely soft to the touch. If a nectarine is under ripe, allow it to sit on the counter for 2-3 days to ripen.
• Handle them carefully as they tend to bruise more easily than peaches. Also avoid fruit that is too soft, wrinkled, or has punctured skin
©Rosanne Rust 2012
About the Author
Rosanne Rust is a Registered Dietitian and co-author of The Hypertension Cookbook for Dummies, The Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies, The Calorie Counter Journal for Dummies and The Restaurant Calorie Counter for Dummies. Learn more about Rosanne and how you can work with her on your own nutrition goals!