Let’s start with the what; What is a stone fruit?
They got their name from their hard pit inside – the ‘stone’. They are part of the ‘Prunus’ genus, which includes many stone fruits such as peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries. Mangoes are also a stone fruit.
PLUS, fun fact, Almonds are also part of the prunus family!
They are mainly grown in the Western Cape, as well as in the Northern Provinces. Stone fruits are in season October to March.
Let’s dive into some details:
Peaches vs Nectarines (a.k.a “kaalgat perske”):
There are many varieties of peaches and nectarines. Most commonly you get clingstone (where the pit adheres to the fruit’s flesh) usually better eaten with a knife but are sweeter and juicier) and dessert (where the pit can be easily removed) *also known as ‘freestone’.
What’s the difference between a peach and a nectarine?
A nectarine is smooth, a peach is fuzzy/velvety (for our scientists – that’s one tiny recessive gene that keeps a Nectarine from being a peach).
They look like small orange peaches, as you know. We all love apricot jam, a very common jam; but why? Apricots are rich in pectin. This also makes them creamy in texture but chewy when dried.
Apricots deliver twice the peach’s fibre and potassium, an packs more Vitamin C and about 5x the carotenoids.
Yellow, Red, purple, black, not only do they range in colours but plums can range from sweet to tart and tangy. The skin can be quite sour.
Did you know that prunes are actually dried plums? The small dark plums.
We all know what Mangoes are. Ripe mangoes are orangish-yellow in color with a sweet, fragrant, juicy flesh that can be eaten raw. You also get sour, gren mangoes which are used for chutneys or pickled.
What is the best way to store stone fruit?
Stone fruits are fragile and have a “peak eating window”. Cold temperatures slow the ripening period, so if you have bought more ripe fruits than you can finish, keep them in the fridge or freeze them for smoothies or bakes.
If they are underripe, you can keep them at room temperature to ripen.
Remember that they can bruise or damage easily, if the fridge is too cold, it can cause them to freeze too which can damage them.