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In season late summer: Stone fruit

These summer fruit are characteristically fleshy with a stone (seed) in the middle that doesn’t ‘split open’ when the fruit matures.

Stone fruit includes in-season peaches and apricots (both with velvety-down skins), plums (the juiciest of stone fruit), cherries, and nectarines (a smooth-skinned variety of peach).

Buying

Avoid stone fruit with wrinkled or blemished skins. Select fruit that feel moderately firm with a little give. Plums mature quickly so if they are not fully ripe, leave them at room temperature for a couple of days. Apricots, too, will ripen at room temperature. Nectarines and peaches don’t ripen after picking so select ripe fruit when buying. Similarly, cherries rarely ripen after harvest.

Storing

Store stone fruit at room temperature (especially if plums or apricots need to ripen). Once mature, fruit can be stored for up to two days in the fridge (plums for up to five days). Allow cool-stored fruit to come to room temperature before eating to maximise juiciness and sweetness. To freeze fruit, remove stones before storage.

Nutrition

Stone fruit contain a range of valuable nutrients, from gold tinged beta-carotene for healthy vision and memory, to red-hued anthocyanins that aid overall brain function. They also contain soluble fibre, which has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol.

Using

To prepare stone fruit, cut fruit in half lengthwise and twist halves in opposite directions to expose (then remove) the stone. If there is too much fuzzy bloom on the skin of apricots or peaches, rub it off under cold water.

Stone fruit can be prepared separately or together as a fruit medley for tarts, crumbles and trifles. The fruit can be poached to make simple desserts or used as a delicious addition to cereals. Fruit such as apricots, cherries and plums are often used to make liqueur/schnapps.

Try these stone fruit recipes: Chilli peach salsa (a perfect accompaniment for cold meats and barbecues), Cherry-topped meringue nests and Apricot jam.

Fact: Turkey is a world-leading producer of both fresh and dried apricots.

First published: Feb 2012



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