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11 Interesting Facts About Nectarines

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Nectarines are delicious stone fruit that have smooth, vibrant skin and sweet, juicy flesh. Though they resemble peaches, they lack the fuzzy peel that peaches have. These nutrient-dense fruits make for a tasty and refreshing snack. Beyond being a tasty treat, nectarines offer some powerful health benefits.

Here are 11 fascinating facts about these fuzz-free stone fruits!

1. Nectarines Originated in China Over 2,000 Years Ago

Nectarines have an extensive history, first being cultivated in China more than 2 millennia ago. From China, nectarines spread along the Silk Road trade route to central Asia and the Middle East. They arrived in Europe during the 16th century after being brought from Persia.

Spanish explorers then introduced nectarines to North America in the 17th century. Today, the United States and Mediterranean countries lead the global production of nectarines.

Nectarines and peaches belong to the same species of fruit trees. Nectarines carry a genetic mutation that causes them to lack the gene responsible for the fuzzy skin found on peaches.

So you could say nectarines are like bald peaches! These closely related fruits can even grow on the same tree. Occasionally, a peach tree will bear smooth-skinned nectarines, while a nectarine tree may bear fuzzy peaches.

3. Nectarines Are Low In Calories and High in Nutrients

With around 60 calories per medium nectarine, these summer treats make for a slimming snack or light dessert. Beyond low calories, the nutrition profile of nectarines really dazzles.

They supply over 10% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin A and vitamin C in each serving. These antioxidants promote skin and eye health. Nectarines also offer a range of B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous.

4. They Come in Diverse Varieties

Nectarine Fruit
Nectarine Fruit

Hundreds of different nectarine cultivars exist, with new specialty varieties still being developed. The skin color of nectarines can range from pale greenish-white to bright or deep red. Flesh color also varies from creamy white to golden yellow to deep orange-red.

Some popular nectarine types include the sub-acid white-fleshed varieties like Snow Queen and Arctic Rose. Sweet, low acid yellow-fleshed varieties like Sunglo and June Glo are also favored. There are even miniature nectarine varieties like Nectar Babe.

5. Nectarines Ripen Quickly at Room Temperature

Nectarines will finish ripening once picked from the tree and left at room temperature. This ripening process happens quickly, within a couple days.

To check ripeness, gently squeeze the nectarine. A ripe fruit will give slightly but shouldn’t be soft. Sweet aromas and bright, vibrant color also indicate ripeness. Once ripe, nectarines should be moved to the refrigerator.

6. They Have a Short Season from Early Summer to Early Fall

Unlike some other fruits that have an extended harvest period, nectarines are only in season for limited months each year. The nectarine season lasts from May through September in the Northern Hemisphere.

Specific harvest times for varieties range from June to late August. So enjoy nectarines during their short season for maximum flavor and sweetness!

7. Nectarines Should Be Eaten With the Skin On

Thanks to their smooth, edible peel, nectarines do not need to be peeled before eating. Leaving the vibrant skin intact preserves nutrients. The skin hosts high concentrations of beneficial plant compounds like chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins.

The skin also adds a burst of color and flavor. Just be sure to wash nectarines thoroughly before enjoying them.

8. They Have an Impressive Nutrient Profile

A single medium nectarine contains 9% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 12% for vitamin C, and 14% for vitamin B3 (niacin). These essential vitamins keep your eyes, skin, and immune system healthy.

Nectarines also offer 6% of the Daily Value for potassium to control blood pressure. And they have 13% for copper to support energy and nerve transmission.

9. Most Nectarines Grown in America Come From California

California supplies about 95% of the commercial nectarines grown in the United States. The state’s Central Valley provides ideal climate conditions for nectarine orchards. Hot, sunny days and cool nights bring out the fruits’ sugars and acids.

California nectarines are in peak season from May through August. The state ships over 35 million boxes per year across the country and the world.

10. They Have Impressive Health Benefits

The unique mix of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in nectarines provides some science-backed health benefits. These nutrients may help guard against cancer, inflammation, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and age-related vision loss.

Nectarines support clear, youthful skin. Their fiber content benefits digestion and weight control. The fruits may even help extend lifespan by reducing oxidative damage and chronic disease risk.

11. Nectarines Can Be Used in Both Savory and Sweet Dishes

Beyond snacking on fresh nectarines, these summer fruits also shine in recipes. Their sweet-tart flavor and juicy texture suit both savory and sweet dishes.

Nectarines pair nicely with ingredients like prosciutto, basil, balsamic, and cheeses in salads. They work well baked into galettes, crisps, and pies or grilled and served with ice cream. Poached nectarines also make an elegant dessert.

So there you have it – 11 fascinating facts about one of summer’s tastiest treats! From their extensive history to their many health perks, nectarines have a lot to offer. With their short seasonal window, be sure to grab these novel fruits to enjoy while you can!

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