Nectarines are smooth-skinned, juicy, and sweet at their ripest. Enjoy them as a snack or in any recipe that includes peaches.
Many nectarine species exist with names such as Southern Belle, Desert Delight, Gulf Pride, and Red Jim.
They will be identified in two ways:
White or yellow. The color designation refers to the flesh and not the skin color. Yellows boast more beta-carotene. Whites are typically sweeter as they are higher in sugar. Both are good sources of fiber along with Vitamins A and C.
Freestone or clingstone. Freestones are those in which the pit is easily removed. Just cut around the nectarine and twist in half. Clingstones have pits that are “attached” to the flesh. It is easier to make several slice-shaped cuts and pry the meat away from the pit.
Newer “semi-freestone” species are a crossbreeding of the two.
• Nectarines may be harvested while not fully ripened, but should have reached full color. Avoid those that are too firm or that have green areas, especially near the stem. Sniff the fruits – they’ll smell slightly sweet, but fresh.
• In general, freestone varieties are superior in taste and freeze well. Clingstones are typically preferred for home canning.
• Fresh nectarines are available year-round, but it may be more convenient to stock canned, dried, juiced, or frozen products.
Firm fruits will soften at room temperature, but will not become sweeter. If they are left in the sun, however, warmer temperatures will make them bitter. Once the desired ripeness has been reached, refrigerate them. Use within one week.
It is not necessary to remove the skin for either cooking or eating raw. However, nectarines can be blanched, if desired, for easier peeling. Always wash well under running water.
After slicing, spritz with lemon juice to prevent browning.
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