Nectarines, like peaches, plums, and apricots, are considered to be a stone fruit. A stone fruit is any fruit that has a hard pit or seed in the center. The pulp around the pits is often the sweetest part of the whole fruit. Unlike peaches, nectarines don’t have a fuzzy outer skin and are often eaten when firm rather than the softer texture of a ripe peach. Look for Idaho nectarines in July, August and September.
Idaho fruit is primarily grown in the state’s version of a banana belt, a cross section of Southern Idaho adjacent to the Snake River that experiences an extended growing season. Nectarine orchards do well in this unique climate where warm days and cool nights contribute to high sugar content and sweeter fruit.
What to Look For: To pick out the best nectarines, make sure the fruit doesn’t have any green spots or wrinkly patches. Then, gently squeeze the nectarines to make sure they give slightly.
How to Store: To ripen nectarines, store them at room temperature, stem-end down. A sweet, flowery smell means nectarines are ripe and should be washed before eating. If your nectarines are already ripe, they should be refrigerated in a plastic bag and eaten within a few days.
Fun Ways to Eat:
- Nectarines and other stone fruits are perfect eaten out of hand or freshly sliced for a dessert topping.
- They also make a great side dish when roasted, poached, or sautéed. As a side dish for a BBQ, cut the fruit in half, coat with butter and sugar, and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.