Fruito the Ripenificent was a world famous fruit magician. For years he had competed for top billing against Vern the Vegetastic until Vern suffered a fatal injury while trying to extricate himself from a giant zucchini flower into which he had been stuffed head first (top hat, tails, and all) before it was filled with 200 pounds of mozzarella and then fried Roman style. Fruito had, of course, sent his condolences to the entire Vegetastic family, as was customary at the time for competing fruit and vegetable illusionists. Later, he was overheard in a London pub to say rather dryly, "At least Vern was a man who died as he lived, with a pistil in his hand."
Verne’s cousin Artie, who was lamenting his familial loss with a third glass of wheat grass at the pub, overheard Fruito and, feeling his family name had been muddied, challenged him to a duel in his preferred fashion—choking at less than one pace. Artie choked but Fruito was ripe for the challenge and gave him his patented Banana Peel Slip, neatly escaping Artie's attack.
But after that Fruito never performed publicly again. His art may have been lost, but his lessons are still preserved to this day. The obvious ones are part of children’s lore even now. Things like "Don't eat cherries while wearing a white tuxedo and trying to extract venom from spitting cobras with your feet" may seem obvious lessons for the youth of today (dry cleaning a white tux is expensive) but back then it was novel.
Recently however, a mustachioed journalist discovered Fruito's hidden tomb and unearthed his secret book of magic, which was profound in its simplicity. “Ripening,” it said, “is the key to all good tricks with fruit.”
Interestingly enough, nature imitates art. Just as Vern’s act started out great and then would decay; so do vegetables - they are ready to eat when picked and then begin to degrade. Fruito would start out slow, build to a crescendo of perfection, and then wind it down - just like summer stone fruit in the orchard. They continue to ripen after being picked, reach a peak of ripeness, and then decay.
So know that peaches and nectarines are ripe and juicy when soft to the touch; that nectarines aren't as astringent as peaches so some folks like to eat them firm. For best flavor, I would recommend not refrigerating. You can store them in the fridge if necessary, but they get brown and mealy when held between 36 and 46 degrees.
Enjoy and be fruitful!
- Chris Mittelstaedt firstname.lastname@example.org