Nectarines are one of summer’s best fruits, and they are juiciest in season! When summer rolls around, I make sure to stock up on fresh nectarines each week to enjoy their fresh taste and benefit from their many nutrients. If you live in an area where there is a nectarine tree nearby, consider yourself lucky! They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and their flesh is easily edible, which makes consuming this fruit pleasant. What is the difference between peaches and nectarines? Unlike the peach with its fuzzy outer skin, these scrumptious fruits offer an easy to eat on the go option, however, the two are almost genetically identical.  

Nectarine Fun Facts

  • “A nectarine is a stone fruit, which is a fruit with a large seed in the middle. 
  • The nectarine is a high source of vitamins A and C. 
  • Nectarines are normally in season in the warmer months, from early spring to mid autumn. 
  • The place of origin of the nectarine is China, but it spread quickly to England in the 16th century.” [1 
  • “Peaches and nectarines are the same species. Although peaches have fuzz, it is because the gene is dominant while in nectarines, the ‘fuzz gene’ is recessive. 
  • Its name came from the Ancient Romans, who called it the “Persian apple”, but later from the French word ‘peche’. 
  • Though studies suggest peaches have been cultivated in China since 2,000 B.C., peaches are mentioned in Chinese writing back in the 10th century B.C.” [2 
  • “Today, California grows over 95% of the nectarines produced in the United States. 
  • The word ‘nectarine’ means sweet as nectar, and this is very likely the obvious origin of the name.” [3 

Nectarine History/Mythology

Both the peach  the nectarine are native to China, and they were first cultivated there back in 2000 B.C. They then spread across Europe in the 16th century before making their way to North America. Nectarines were a symbol of long life in China, and they were merely seen as a peach without the fuzzy skin. There are rumors  that a nectarine is a cross between a peach and a plum, but this is simply not the case. The nectarine has an identical genetic makeup to that of a peach, whether it is a white nectarine or a regular orange colored one. They would randomly appear on fruit trees that grew peaches, so the mystery remains to this day.  

The Spanish then brought the fruit trees to Mexico in the 15th century, and in the 16th century this fruit was being grown all around England. According to Garden Guides, “By 1720, nectarines were mentioned in literature or correspondence to be growing in the peach orchards in Virginia. A.J. Downing noted that in the mid 1850s there were 19 different “races” or varieties of nectarines extant. They were being grown in California well before 1900.”  [4] Today, at least 100 varieties have been created and they are just as popular as they were back when they were first cultivated. 

Nectarine Nutritional Information

So what is the nutritional breakdown of a nectarine, and how many calories does it have? According to Sam Cooks, “One medium nectarine (140 grams, about 5 ounces) contains 70 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram each of fat and protein, 20% of the RDA for vitamin A, and 10% for vitamin C. Nectarines are also a decent source of potassium.” [5] In just one nectarine, it will cover 9% of your daily potassium needs as a whole, and it will cover you with many antioxidants as well. Eating this fruit daily will ensure your electrolyte levels are stable and that all of your potassium needs are being filled. [6 

Other important nutrients to note that are inside of a juicy nectarine are vitamins A, E, K, as well as folates, niacin, and riboflavin. There is also a substantial amount of zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and iron present. These antioxidants will most definitely slow down your body’s aging process and they will help it fight off any free radicals that cause harm in the body. No matter how you decide to enjoy the nectarine, your body will thank you for it and you won’t run out of ways to eat them, whether it be plain or with a delicious nectarine recipe. [7] 

Nectarine Health Benefits

One of the nice qualities about eating a nectarine over a peach is the ability to eat the skin, which also harbors a lot of nutrients and gives you optimal health benefits. The firmer the nectarine, the less ripe it is, so for optimal benefits make sure the fruit has a little give to it. Carefully check the skin and press down with your finger. If you can make a small and subtle dent, then you are good to eat it for its most intense flavor. Due to the amount of vitamin A found in a nectarine, it does a lot of good for your bones, teeth, and blood health overall. It is also extremely high in vitamin C, which also helps ward off cancers, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses that creep up in the body.  

The nectarines large amounts of potassium also help to level out the metabolism, regulate pH levels in the body, and help with a more efficient digestion process of carbohydrates. Finally, nectarines also contain a substantial amount of healthy fiber, which aids in overall better digestive health as well as gives you that full feeling for longer periods of time. [8] Because it is a fruit, there is natural sugar content, so do not go overboard eating too many. When eaten in moderation, your body will naturally reap the benefits that nectarines have to offer. The saying, “If it tastes this good, it has to be good for you” truly applies to eating nectarines!  

Nectarine Varieties

There is a wide variety of nectarines that are cultivated around the world today. Some come with red, orange, and white flesh, while others are larger and smaller in size. They are all similar in taste, and they each have a pit in the center which remains inedible. Some of the more common types of nectarines are listed below, and they can be found in grocery stores and farmers markets around the world today. One thing remains the same, however, and that is the outer skin, which is soft and not fuzzy, as well as its overarching flavor.  

  • Armking- average size nectarine with yellow pulp. 
  • Sunred- small size fruit with yellow and red pulp. 
  • Maygrand- larger size fruit with red pulp. 
  • Rhone Gold- large fruit with red pulp. 
  • Independence- average size fruit with yellow pulp. 
  • Moon Grand- small fruit with yellow pulp.  
  • Sun Grand- large size fruit with orange and red pulp. 
  • Le Grand- large fruit with yellow pulp.  
  • Morton- small size fruit with white pulp. [9] 

Nectarine Uses

There are a variety of ways to eat nectarines due to the large number of delicious nectarine recipes. When you are picking out nectarines from the grocery store, if you do not have a fruit tree nearby, make sure to avoid fruits with wrinkles, bruises, and soft spots. They should be rather firm but not rock hard so you can enjoy them days after purchasing. Many of the recipes you will find incorporating nectarines are dessert and breakfast based due to their sweet and juicy nature. Nectarine cupcakes, hand pies, cakes, and jams are some of the recipes you will find out there and they are best made when the fruit is in season. One of my favorite recipes if a nectarine and raspberry jam that you can place on many different foods to make them that much better tasting! See the recipe below and try it out for yourself!  

Raspberry Nectarine Jam Recipe

By: Martha Stewart 

Ingredients 

  • 2 1/4 pounds nectarines, pitted  
  • 12 ounces raspberries 
  • 1 1/2 pounds sugar (3 1/3 cups)  
  • Coarse salt  
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

Instructions 

  1. Stir together fruit, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mashing fruit with a potato masher. Add lemon juice; continue to boil, stirring frequently until bubbles slow, chunks of fruit show at top, and mixture clings to a spoon but falls off in clumps, 10 to 12 minutes. Skim foam from top.  
  2. Ladle jam into clean containers, leaving 3/4 inch of headroom. Let cool completely. Cover, label, and refrigerate up to 1 month, or freeze up to 1 year. 

This recipe is best fresh, so spread it on a scone or muffin of choice and enjoy the immense flavor it has to offer! If you freeze it, allow a lot of thaw time so you the jam is room temperature upon serving.  

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