Sweet, delicious nectarine is a closely related fruit species to peach. As in peach, it too can be described as a drupe (fruit flesh surrounded by central solitary, hard seed) belonging within the genus; Prunus; a large group of tree fruits which also includes plums, damson, almonds, etc. This novel fruit is appreciated worldwide for its juicy, fragrant aroma, and unique taste. It thought to have originated in China and from where spread to Central Asia and Persia to Europe through ancient silk route.
Scientific name: Prunus persica var. nucipersica.
Photo courtesy: lilbear
Nectarine is a medium sized deciduous tree with arching branches. It requires very cold winter-season followed by warm weather for proper development of buds. White or pinkish-white flowers appear in early spring which develop subsequently into attractive fruits by June. The fruit appears same as that of peach. However, nectarine tend to be smaller and has smooth surface unlike fuzzy surface in case of peach. As in peach, it features vertical furrow that extends from the stem end upto its tip.
Photo courtesy: basykes
Internally, its flesh is juicy; and depending upon the variety it can be creamy yellow or white in color with centrally placed single, hard seed (stone). The seed is inedible. Depending upon the seed that is free or firmly attached to the surrounding flesh, nectarines can be classified into free-stone or clinging varieties.
Juicy, delicious nectarines are low in calories (100 g just provide 44 calories), and contain no saturated fats. They are indeed packed with numerous health promoting anti-oxidants, plant nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
The total measured anti-oxidant strength (ORAC value) of 100 g raw nectarine fruit is 750 TE (Trolex equivalents).
Fresh nectarines carry small amounts of vitamin C. 100 g provides 5.4 mg or about 9% of daily-recommended levels. Vitamin-C has anti-oxidant effects and is required for connective tissue formation within the human body. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, and help scavenges harmful free radicals.
Nectarines have small but healthy concentrations of other anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin E and flavonoid poly phenolic anti-oxidants lutein, zea-xanthin and ß-cryptoxanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Further, vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucusa and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A is known to offer protection from lung and oral cavity cancers.
The fruit is a healthy source of some of B-complex vitamins and minerals. It is good in niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and pyridoxine. In addition, it contains an appropriate ratio of minerals and electrolytes such as potassium, iron, zinc, copper and phosphorus. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
Nectarine season lasts from mid-June until the end of September. In the fruit markets, one might come across several varieties of fresh nectarines. Look for well-ripen, soft fruit with smooth surface. Avoid hard, immature ones as they are harvested prematurely and hence, off flavored. Furthermore, avoid those with signs of surface blemishes, shriveled, cracks, and punctures.
As in pears, it is natural and an acceptable characteristic for peaches and nectarines too to have russet-brown speckled patches on their surface. Slightly hard but mature nectarines can be kept at room temperature until they ripen. Ripening process can be enhanced by using ethylene spary, and other similar procedures that employed while ripening bananas. Storage in a paper bag concentrates this gas and hastens the process.
Ripe nectarine perish early and should be placed inside the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before eating to enjoy their rich natural flavor.
Juicy nectarines have delicious flavor and sweet cream-yellow or white flesh. Choose only fresh ripe fruits to eat; unripe ones are quite tart, and hence, off-flavored.
To prepare, gently wash them in cold water, mop dry using soft cloth. The fruit can be consumed raw along with its skin as in apples. One can also cut the fruit into two halves and separate the pit (seed) using a knife.
To peel, use the same technique as in peaches. Score a small cross at the base. Dip in boiling water just for a minute and immediately immerse in cold water to cool quickly. Then peel the skin away from the cross.
Here are some serving tips:
|Delicious nectarine tart.
Photo courtesy: The essential vegetarian cookbook.
Nectarine generally relished as it is, without any seasonings/additions.
Its slices can be added to fruit salads and desserts.
The fruit can be used to make jams, jelly, and mixed fruit desserts.
It can also be used in preparing pie, crumble, soup, tart, cheesecake,...etc.
Allergic reactions to nectarine is rare. It is well tolerated by children as well as in pregnant women.
<<-Back to Fruit nutrition from Nectarine. Please visit here for an impressive list of all variety of fruits with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.
<<-Back to Home page.
Visit here for very informative pages on:-
Research articles on nutrition.
1. Peaches and Nectarine-Virginia cooperative extension.
2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk. (Link opens in new window).