"Where's Your Coat, Child?"

By  Heidi Lewis

The parenting adage goes, “Put on a sweater, your mother is cold,” but we needn’t worry about the  health of a nectarine, which is indeed a sweater-less peach. Peaches’ fuzzy coats help protect them  because pests don’t care for their texture, but nectarines get extra mothering. Nectarines thrive with  the special care that many orchardists employ. Farmers such as California’s Ed Magee use precise  irrigation, owl pest control, and special pruning techniques to get the prettiest and sweetest-tasting  of this scantily clad fruit.

nectarines

The name “nectarine” means “like nectar,” and varieties come in a cavalcade of fancy names evoking  fire and jewels, such as Diamond Bright, Diamond Pearl, Crimson, Goldmine, Ruby Grand, Flame  Kist, and August Flare. The names with Ice, Snow, or Stars usually belong to the white-fleshed  varieties, such as the Snow Queen and Arctic Star. Just like their sister peaches, nectarines can come  in freestone (the flesh is free from the pit), clingstone (the flesh is woven into the pit), and semi-cling  versions. They also come in the squashed-looking “donut” varieties.

Nectarines are not genetically modified to be fuzz-less—they’re as ancient as peaches, their histories  intertwined. The nectarine is just one gene different from a peach. In fact, sometimes peach trees will  produce a nectarine or vice versa. They were described in ancient texts, but true cultivation wasn’t  chronicled until the 17th century in England. They were first grown in the U.S. in the 18th century and  thrive in less humid climes like California.

Nectarines bring a full palette of flavor undertones, from cinnamon to citrus to pineapple. The most  significant aspect is their sweetness, which is affected by the level of acid in the fruit. “Sub-acid”  nectarines and peaches taste sweeter because they have less acid. Nectarines are a low-calorie food (about 50 calories per piece) and are chock full of vitamin C and  vitamin A (20% of your RDA)—which is bound to make any mom happy.

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The FruitGuys Magazine is your source for workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. Previously known as The FruitGuys Almanac, the Magazine began in 2007. Editors and contributors include nationally known journalists and food writers. Submissions and suggestions can be sent to the editor.