A Guide to the Most Popular Types of Stone Fruit
What's the difference between a peach and a nectarine? As it turns out, the differences are skin-deep.
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Fruits in the genus prunus are so closely related, you might not know the difference between a peach and a nectarine! They all have one thing in common—a pit in the middle—and each one is delicious in its own way. Here’s a simple guide for understanding the different types of stone fruit (and, how to cook with them).
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How to Buy Stone Fruit
Don’t squeeze those poor fruits to tell if they’re ripe—you’ll end up bruising them. Instead, give them a whiff. If they smell fragrant, they’re ready to eat! If not, store them in a paper bag on the counter until that intoxicating smell appears. Once ripened, store stone fruit in the crisper drawer in the fridge.
Cherries are the first stone fruit to pop up in the spring and there’s a baffling amount of variety in color and taste. Some are sour with bright, tart flavors while others are firm and sweet.
If you can get your hands on sour cherries, they make the best pies! The sweet varieties are perfect for just about everything, from ice cream to jam to barbecue sauce.
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Apricots look like small peaches. They have a tart flavor that’s perfectly balanced by a sweet, creamy texture. They don’t last very long once they’re picked from the tree, so enjoy them while you can!
Apricots are my go-to fruit for making jam, thanks to their pectin-rich skins. They’re also good for dehydrating since they maintain a meaty texture when dried.
You’ll find the traditional fuzzy, heart-shaped peaches with yellow flesh in every grocery store, but you may also find a few different varieties floating around. Donut peaches are flattened and round with low acidity, whereas white peaches are super sweet with a luscious texture.
No matter what kind you choose, peaches make the best cobblers and pie. I also love grilling them and adding them to a summery salad.
A nectarine looks like a peach…and it actually tastes like one, too! The major difference between the two is that nectarines have smooth skin (as opposed to peach’s fuzzy exterior). They have a slightly firmer texture, but you can use them interchangeably in recipes that call for peaches.
Like peaches, I love grilling nectarines and combining them with cheese for this delectable appetizer.
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The classic plum is bright purple, but they actually come in all colors. Unlike most other stone fruit, the skin on plums is usually smooth instead of fuzzy. They have super juicy flesh, so make sure you have a napkin handy when eating them raw!
My favorite way to use plums is in a baked dessert. It’s the perfect way to showcase their bright color and flavor!
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Then, there’s a whole world of interspecific stone fruit. These crosses might be part peach, part apricot (peachplots), a mix of apricot and plum (apriums or pluots) or a peach/apricot/plum hybrid (peacotum).
The varieties vary from region to region, but make sure to grab up a bag when you find them at the farmers market. These are my favorite varieties for making pies and cobblers.