Produce Superstars: Are Nectarines Really Mutant Peaches?

Beautifully ripe yellow California nectarines


Oddly enough, that appears to be the case. Peaches and nectarines are the same species and nectarines vary from peaches only in that they have a single different, recessive mutant gene.  But that gene makes nectarines fuzz-less, and generally redder and firmer than peaches. Both are in the same family with prunes, almonds and roses and like so much else, were developed in China some two thousand years ago. Peaches and nectarines can have white or yellow interiors and both can be cling stone or freestone, meaning in some, the flesh sticks to the pit, and in others, the pit separates from the flesh. When I go shopping for peaches, I often end up buying nectarines because they typically seem to be riper and sweeter looking.  Peaches picked ripe are delicate and bruise easily, which explains why commercially they are usually picked green, and all too often, never ripen properly.  A sad waste. Your best bet for finding a ripe peach or nectarine is a farmer’s market where you can taste before buying. Look for well-colored fruit, ever-so-slightly soft to the touch and with a sweet aroma. At their peak now, nectarines will be great in any recipe calling for peaches, or try my recipe for maple-cinnamon glazed roasted nectarines…


Maple-cinnamon glazed roasted nectarines (recipe after the jump)


Preheat oven to 425º F

2-4 Servings

Wash two large nectarines and cut in half the long way, remove the pit. Place the nectarines cut side up in a small lightly oiled baking pan. Mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 2 tablespoons warm maple syrup, brush this mixture onto the nectarines, allow most of it to gather in the well where the pit was. Optional, but good: sprinkle a few grains of salt on each nectarine. Roast for 45 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized.  Eat as is, or with your favorite frozen topping. Isn’t summer wonderful!


One response

  1. I am buying organic peaches at my local farmer’s market. I usually buy them not quite ripe and store them in the fridge; when I want a peach, I take it out of the fridge and put it out to continue to ripen. This seems to work well.

    But I just bought nectarines, and this process didn’t work with them. When I brought them out from the fridge to ripen, instead they sort of withered and shrank to a much smaller size. Is buying the nectarines ripe the only solution? Because I only eat one per day, and if they are ripe, they will become overipe on the counter. I suppose I could cook with them. Your roasted nectarines sound wonderful! Thanks!

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