Stone Fruit

Jul 30, 2018

As summer enters full swing, fresh fruit and vegetables reach their peak availability. Mid-summer, plump, ripe stone fruits start to arrive at local Co-op stores from BC and Washington state. Picked at the peak of freshness, cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines are at their sunny best right now.

Stone fruit are also called drupes. In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which a fleshy outer part surrounds a single shell (or pit, or stone). Ensconced inside that stone is a small seed. 

cherriesSweet Crimson Cherries Arriving at Co-op 

Originating in Western Asia and Northern Africa, cherries take their name from the Latin word cerasum. It refers to a region in ancient Greece, near present-day Turkey, where they were first exported to Europe. 

There’s a pretty good variety of options when it comes to cherries. The most popular are probably the darker sweet cherries. But there are also sweet yellow and red cherries, as well as sour cherries which are great for baking. Cherries are not only tasty, they’re also really good for you. They contain Vitamin C, antioxidants and melatonin, so they may help you balance out your sleep cycle. Additionally, they have natural anti-inflammatory properties.  

How to store fresh cherries:

Sweet cherries store surprisingly well and can last 5-7 days in the fridge. Sour cherries are gentler and should be used right away. 

Pick Your Peaches 

Scientists have traced peach DNA to Northwest China and while China is the biggest exporter of peaches in the world, Co-op’s crop comes from much closer to home; the fruit farms of British Columbia. Peaches got their name when they were linked to Persia (modern-day Iran), where the fruit was widely cultivated before making its way to Europe. 

Characteristically fuzzy on the outside, peaches are the type of fruit you either eat skin-on, or insist on peeling. When it comes to varieties, you can find white and yellow peaches, as well as freestone or clingstone ones. Not surprisingly, freestone means the pit comes out easily, while in clingstone peaches the flesh sticks firmly to the pit. Peaches are delicious on their own, but also make for amazing baking! They are high in vitamin C, so no surprise this grown-in-Canada fruit is also great for your health. 

How to store fresh peaches:

White peaches only keep for a short time in the fridge before they tend to get wrinkly, while yellow peaches can be stored for about 3-5 days. Want to ripen them faster? Just put them in a brown paper bag for a day or so. 

nectarinesThe Noble Nectarine

Some folks consider nectarines to be a different fruit from peaches, but they are actually genetically the same. The only difference is the lack of fuzz on their exterior, and for those who don’t enjoy the fuzziness of a peach, but still want to indulge in that same juicy, sweet flavour, nectarines are the perfect solution. 

Just like peaches, nectarines can be freestone or clingstone, white or yellow. They also have a very high vitamin C content, making eating nectarines a healthy addition to your diet. The beta-carotene in the fruit is great for your skin, teeth and bones, and they have lots of potassium and fiber for a healthy metabolism. 

How to store fresh nectarines:

Nectarines will only keep for about a day or two in the fridge, so use them up sliced over ice cream, or in smoothies.  

plumsPlum Perfect

It’s been written that plums may have been the first fruit domesticated by humans. There are so many different types that originate from various places all over the globe that we could probably dedicate a whole article just to these violet-hued fruits. 

The two most likely places of origin for plums are Eastern Europe and Asia. European plums tend to be oval-shaped and are often used for prunes, while Asian plums are larger and rounder. 

Here in Calgary, the plums that arrive from BC in particular tend to be European and Japanese in origin. Just like these other stone fruits, plums are great for your health. They contain vitamins A, K and C, as well as folate and fiber. 

How to store fresh plums:

Plums typically store for about 3-5 days in the fridge. Leave them out on the counter to speed ripening.

How to Pick a Ripe Stone Fruit 
It’s pretty easy to select the perfect stone fruit. Just gently squeeze the fruit – it should be firm, but not hard. Look for bruises, which may indicate the fruit is too ripe. Because stone fruit is often picked before it is completely ripe, it’s not uncommon to find hard fruit. In this case, give it some time to ripen before eating, either by leaving it out on the counter, or keeping it in the fridge.

Fun Fact! 
Did you know that Almonds are also stone fruits? Some other family members are mangoes, and lychees. Even blackberries and raspberries are considered relatives of stone fruits, although they’re called drupelets.

Whether you plan to nibble them right off the pit, bake them into pies, stew a fragrant chutney, or slice them and serve with fresh cream, ice cream or custard, now is the time to head to your local Co-op to pick the best of the seasonal bounty of stone fruits.

- Erin

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