Thursday, January 24, 2013

All about Nectarines


The Nectarine is the smooth-skinned peach of the family Rosaceae and it is thought to have originated from China. It has been known for more than 2,000 years and grown throughout the warmer temperate regions of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. 

Peaches vs. Nectarines

When the tree shape and leaf characteristics are compared, the peach and nectarine are indistinguishable, but nectarine fruits look more like plums than peaches because of the smooth skin.

As with peaches, nectarines can be white or yellow. When ripe, its smooth skin is a brilliant golden yellow with generous blushes of red. with On average, nectarines are slightly smaller and sweeter than peaches, but with much overlap.

Health Benefits

Nectarines provide vitamin A precursors, B carotene, B Cryptoxanthin, Lycopene, and Lutein which provide the red, orange, and yellow colors to fruits and vegetables.  These phytochemicals are beneficial in the maintenance of heart health, and overall cellular functions. They are also a good source of potassium, flavonoids, and natural fruit sugars for sweetness.

Nectarines are wonderful eaten out of hand and can be used in salads, a variety of fresh and cooked desserts and as a garnish for many hot and cold dishes. Nectarine juice concentrate is an excellent ingredient to add a fruit serving for beverages, cakes, pies, pastries, sauces, jellies and other processed foods like nutrition bars and snacks.

Shopping tip:
Look for fragrant, brightly colored fruit that gives slightly to the touch. Avoid those with bruises or other blemishes as well as those that are hard or overly green. Slightly underripe nectarines can be left to ripen at room temperature for a couple of days.  Ripe fruit should be refrigerated and used within 5 days.

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