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Nectarine


Nectarine

Varieties

A nectarine is not a cross between a peach and a plum, as is commonly assumed. In fact, it is a fuzzless variety of peach. Scientifically speaking, nectarines are genetically identical to peaches, except that they have a recessive gene that makes them smooth. They are a member of the Family of Flowering Plants (Rosaceae; Rose, Peach, Apple, Pear, Strawberry family). So close is the nectarine to the peach that occasionally when peach trees are cross or even self pollinated, they will produce some fruit whose seeds will grow into nectarine trees and others which will be peach trees. Nectarines will sometimes appear on peach trees, and peaches sometimes appear on nectarine trees!
It is impossible to tell which seeds from nectarine trees will produce nectarine bearing trees, so commercial growers take branches which produce nectarines and graft them onto peach trees. The branches will continue to produce nectarines.
As with the peach and the plum, there are two categories of nectarines: freestone and clingstone. Varieties in the freestone category are easily separated from their pit while varieties in the clingstone varieties usually leave flesh attached to the pit when preparing or eating the nectarine. A newer third category of nectarines, called semi-freestones, is a combination of the freestone and clingstone varieties.

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Storage

Unless they need ripening, nectarines should be stored in your refrigerator. To ripen them, leave them outside the refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

Nectarines, like peaches, probably originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. Trade routes took the nectarine through Greece where residents thought nectarine juice was so tantalizingly good they called it the drink of Gods or nectar, a word from which the modern name for the fruit derives. Nectarines were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and were introduced to America by the Spanish.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Like the peach, the nectarines sweetness comes from its natural sugar content. Each piece contains a good amount of fiber as well as being high in vitamins A, E, and C, and all for less than 70 calories. One medium sized nectarine also contains 16 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of dietary fiber. Nectarines are also a decent source of potassium

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Basic Cooking Instructions

The easiest way to pit freestone nectarines is to make a cut on the seam all the way around and through the fruit down to the pit. Then twist each half in opposite directions. Clingstones are a bit sticker. It's best to cut the sections (slices, quarters etc.) right from the whole fruit by slicing down to the pit and removing the desired amount. As with apples, pears and peaches, lemon or other citrus juice retards browning on cut areas.

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