By Lauren Cox of Closer To Your Food

Stone fruit will always hold a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of walking into my grandparents kitchen at their cozy little Lake Tahoe cabin. I remember being overcome by the irresistible smell of fresh peaches and nectarines in the summer. My grandmother usually picked up dozens of them from Northern California fruit stands on her way up to the cabin.

 That smell still invokes warm memories and happy feelings to this day. I still have a strange preference for fresh peach drinks, soaps and, well just about anything peach. It’s no wonder why summer is hands down my favorite time of year. Stone fruits ripen during the hot summer days and we get treated to an amazing annual harvest. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when buying/growing stone fruit this year:

Apricots

While apricots may not be the most popular stone fruit, they are versatile and so very good for you. They of course are high in vitamin C, but with that orange color comes high amounts of beta-carotene. Apricots are also very high in fiber. Because they are a little tart and not too sweet, they are not as high in sugar as other stone fruits, which makes apricots better fruit for you on the glycemic scale.

 Cherries

Cherries only have a glycemic index of 22 (even lower than blueberries) which make them an excellent snack option. Cherries are red, that means they contain anthocyanins which ultimately helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, thus reducing your risk of diabetes. When picking cherries, make sure the stem is intact and avoid bruising. They ripen quickly when picked—so plan to eat them promptly!

 Nectarines

The smell of a ripe nectarine is intoxicating! To choose the best, be sure to select nectarines that smell sweet and fragrant, but have supple flesh. Not only are they high in beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C, nectarines are also high in potassium, essential for your pH balance and digestion of carbohydrates. Nectarines are closely related to peaches and thought to have originated in China, finding their way to Europe through the ancient silk route.

Peaches

These are by far my favorite, and there are so many varieties and great ways to prepare peaches. Did you know that peaches are actually a member of the rose family? Maybe that’s where they get their incredible aroma. Fresh peaches are also packed with vitamin C, critical for many things but mostly keeping your immune system in shape.

 Plums

When people think plums, they sometimes think prunes because–let’s face it–are great for easing constipation. Not such a gross thought after you’ve had kids and realize how important regular bowel movements are for them, especially infants. Well, fresh plums are perfect kid-sized snacks and help keep them regular too.

When buying plums, don’t be scared of that white film on them, it’s called the bloom. I think the bloom makes plums look stunning and makes for captivating pictures when it hits the light right. Actually, if your plums are devoid of bloom, you know that they have been handled extensively from tree to market, just food for thought.

Harvesting

One of the best ways to tell if most fruit is ripe, is to give the tree a gentle shake. Whatever falls off is typically ripe and ready to eat. This is a great method when you can eat or cook the fruit that day, but if you are going to use them in the future or need them a little firmer for perhaps a peach galette or preserves, make sure they still have a little firmness, but are supple to the touch before picking.

Storage

Most stone fruits do best out at room temperature after picking. I like storing mine in a wire basket where they can “breathe”, but do watch for fruit flies. If you are having problems with fruit flies, I set out a jar with a little unfiltered apple cider vinegar and cover it with plastic wrap. Poke a hole or two in the plastic and you have an instant trap. The only exception to this would be cherries because I like eating them ice cold out of the fridge, but that’s a personal preference.

Remember to start refrigerating fruit when it is really soft and ripe, when you reach that point, you know they are prime and there are only a couple days left to enjoy the fruit optimally.


Closer To Your Food is a wellness blog and YouTube channel dedicated to better wellness through whole food nutrition, sensible eating and informed food preparation with healthy-eating recipes. They are a frequent contributor to Natural Partners blog and you can follow them on Twitter @Closer2YourFood