Stone fruit guide: how to choose, ripen, store and cook them
Stone fruits are my favorite part of summer… after the hot weather and long hours of daylight.
Stone fruits, also known as drupes, are typically in season in late May to early October in the United States. Some of the more common drupes include peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries, but olives, mangoes, and pecans also fall into this category. There are hundreds, if not thousands of varieties of many of these fruits – not to mention the various hybrids such as plumcots, apriums, and pluots – that come in many shades, sizes, and flavors.
Here’s what you need to know about some of the more popular types of stone fruit.
This is what I consider to be the standard bearer for stone fruit in the United States – there is nothing better than biting into a ripe peach and letting the juice run down your chin for a day. warm and sunny. The fruit is generally known for its balance of tangy acidity and sweetness and is either a deep golden yellow or creamy white. Yellow peaches tend to have higher acidity; white peaches are sweeter and often slightly sweeter, but they are generally not recommended for cooking as they can become mushy and fall apart. There are also flat versions of the fruit called Saturn’s donuts or peaches. Due to their size, they are generally ideal for eating out of the blue, as they would require more effort to prepare than traditional round peaches. When it comes to taste, donut peaches are also generally sweeter and sweeter than round ones.
While peaches tend to be in vogue most of the time during stone fruit season, don’t sleep on nectarines. The two stone fruits are very similar in many ways and relatively interchangeable in their uses, but nectarines are often firmer, sweeter, and juicier than peaches. One of the main differences between the two is that nectarines have a smooth skin compared to the characteristic fluff of peaches, which is a boon for anyone confused by the consumption of fur fruit.
There are different types of each of the stone fruits included in this list, but plums are perhaps the most varied. They can range in size from as small as a cherry to as large as a baseball; they come in a variety of colors including dark purple / almost black, red, yellow, and green; and they exist throughout the bittersweet spectrum. (The one I’m currently eating for inspiration as I write this article is definitely on the astringent end of the spectrum.) They have smooth skin and the whitish layer that is sometimes on top is called the “flower” and helps protect the fruit.
The vast majority of apricots grown in the country come from California, and these yellow fruits have a velvety skin that isn’t quite smooth, but isn’t as fuzzy as that of a peach. Compared to other stone fruits, apricots tend to be firmer when ripe and won’t get as juicy. As such, apricots are generally not interchangeable with peaches or nectarines in recipes due to the difference in water content.
These small stone fruits, often heart-shaped, come in shades of red and yellow and can be divided into two categories: sweet or tart. Sweet cherries, such as Bing and Rainier, are excellent eaten without the hand or can be baked in pies and clafoutis, baked into jam, or simmered in a sauce. Perhaps the most popular variety of sour or sour cherries is Montmorency, and as the name of the category suggests, you don’t really want to put them in your mouth as a snack. They are also called pie cherries, as they are always ideal for mixing with sugar and baking.
– Cut stone against adherent stone
While I have heard that this categorization applies primarily to peaches, it also applies to other stone fruits. The dimension stone and the adherent stone indicate how closely the flesh of the fruit adheres to its stone. As I’m sure you can deduce, the freestone involves a looser connection compared to the hanging stone, and although the core inside the freestone fruit does not simply fall off when you hang it. open, it will be much easier to remove than in sticky stone fruit. (Most fruits available in grocery stores are cut stone.) Aside from the pitting process, the difference between the two is that sticky stone fruits are juicier and slightly sweeter, making them ideal for canning and preservation.
– Selection, refining and storage
The skin of stone fruits should be smooth and plump – hence the double meaning of the peach emoji on social media – and they should feel big for their size. Wrinkled skin means older fruit which should be eaten immediately. For cherries, it is best to buy fruits with the stems still attached because they keep longer.
You can tell if most stone fruit is ripe if there is a little bit of elasticity when you gently press near the stem. (No, this does not give you permission to start squeezing all the fruit on sale at the grocery store or farmers market. It is nice to buy fruit at different stages so that you can enjoy it for a period of time. extended instead of all at once.) For peaches in particular, the nose knows this – they will have that unmistakable floral and sweet scent that the fruit is known for when ready to eat. Sweet cherries will be firm when ripe, while sour cherries will be slightly soft.
Cherries should always be stored unwashed in a breathable bag in the refrigerator. Other stone fruits should be stored, also unwashed, either in a paper bag or in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with a tea towel covered with another tea towel at room temperature until ripe. If you go for the paper bag method, you can add another ethylene-producing fruit, such as an apple, to speed up the ripening process. (It is important to note that ripening will only improve the sweetness and juiciness of the fruit and will not make it sweeter.) Once ripe, store the fruit in the crisper of your refrigerator, preferably in a breathable product bag if available. .
Finally, you can peel the stone fruit if you wish before baking and baking, but it is not necessary. If you find the skins difficult to remove, soak the fruits in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, put them in an ice bath and then they should be easier to strip.
Whether raw or cooked, peeled or not, stone fruits are the icing on the cake of a wonderful summer season.