What is a Stone Fruit?
Oh, midsummer—the temperatures can be a bit much for me, but I love stone fruit. Peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots are at their best now. The more aromatic and soft to the touch, the better when it comes to these gems. Some surprising stone fruit (drupe) family members include dates, coconuts, lychees, olives, pecans, and mango. Shockingly to many, raspberries and blackberries are also classified as stone fruit. These berries are aggregate fruits in the drupe family—meaning that they are clusters of tiny drupes.
Storing Your Stone Fruit
You can keep most stone fruits on the counter until they are fully ripe and then should be transferred to the fridge. Cherries are the exception and can be refrigerated as soon as you bring them home. If you need to speed up the fruit’s ripening, try placing it in a paper bag.
OK, so technically, they might kill you—don’t worry, I’m exaggerating! As you know, cyanide is a potent poison. The seeds of cherries, peaches, and apricots contain amygdalin, which degrades into hydrogen cyanide during metabolism. However, you’d have to eat a whole lot of them before you’d experience adverse health effects. For instance, a 150-pound person would have to consume roughly 78 raw apricot seeds before they’d be at risk for medical problems. That being said, you should never consider grinding up the seeds or pits of these fruits in your morning smoothie. Cooking the pits seems to destroy the toxin, which is why you might even come across apricot kernel snacks that you eat similarly to sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
So Many Choices
When it comes to white and yellow peaches, the white variety is usually sweeter but are best eaten in their natural state—they fall apart during cooking. The flesh of clingstone peaches “clings” to the pit, but the flesh is generally juicier and sweeter than freestone peaches.
You can use nectarines in most recipes that call for peaches, but they are often firmer, sweeter, and juicier.
There are many varieties of plums, and their flavor ranges from tart to sweet, depending on the type you choose.
Apricots are not as juicy as peaches or nectarines, so you can’t use them interchangeably in your favorite crisp or cobbler recipes.
Examples of sweet cherries are Bing and Ranier, which are delicious eaten just as they are or used to make jam. Montmorency is an example of a tart cherry that is usually mixed with sugar and used in pastries.
Get Inspired in the Kitchen
Southern Living’s Peach-Ricotta-Prosciutto Toasts combine ricotta, lemon zest, peach, prosciutto, and basil on top grilled baguette slices. What isn’t to love here?
Epicurious’s Peaches and Tomatoes with Burrata and Hot Sauce can be served with grilled wings or pork ribs for a fast and flavorful summer meal.
Food and Wine’s Peach Shortcake with Vanilla Whipped Cream is a luscious dessert that you can pull together relatively quickly.
Natasha Kitchen’s Carrot Salad with Apricots and Pecans is a creamy salad with a hint of sweetness.
Saveur’s Apricot Salsa with Mint is simultaneously tangy and sweet and would be excellent on grilled fish or poultry.
Diabetic Living Magazine’s Spiced Bran Muffins with Dried Apricots are low-calorie, whole-grain, and packed with spicy flavor.
Bon Appétit’s Plum-Cardamon Crumble with Pistachios was part of the Healthyish Farmers’ Market Challenge.
Rachel Ray’s Pork Chops with Warm Plum Chutney can be prepared in minutes and are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Good Housekeeping’s Individual Autumn Puddings were just too beautiful not to include here. Take your next dinner party up a notch by serving these striking individual desserts that look like they took a lot longer (35 minutes) and contain many more calories than they do (258 each).
Taste of Home’s Summer Buzz Fruit Salad is packed with cherries and watermelon, blueberries, English cucumber, and fresh mint. It tastes like the season in a bowl.
Midwest Living’s Oatmeal Cherry Cookies are the perfect end to your next picnic lunch.
The View From Great Island’s Whitefish with Cherry Salsa pairs plenty of fresh cherries with jalapeno, lime, red onion, and cilantro.
Stock Your Pantry with Stone Fruit
Lehman’s Old-Fashioned Peaches come in six varieties, including Vanilla Peach Halves and Brandied Peach Halves. If you’re looking to upgrade your canned peaches, these might be just what you’re looking for, although some shoppers have noted that they are pricy. $12.99 for a 32-ounce jar ($10.99 each if you buy two or more).
Mountain Fruit Co’s Southern Peaches are 78% cooked down California peaches with a dash of cinnamon. Recommended uses include as a topper for waffles, ice cream, or yogurt. Mountain Fruit Co. spreads are lower in sugar than most other jams. $7.99 for a 9.5-ounce jar.
Savory Spice’s Georgia Peach Spice can be used for sweet and savory applications, including cookies, ice creams, salad dressings, and marinades. The flavors of vanilla bean, lemon zest, allspice, and cloves make this a worthy addition to any spice rack. $9.99 for a 3.3-ounce jar.
Belazu Ingredient Company Apricot Harissa is mildly spicy with warm flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin. You can use it on sandwiches, wraps, chicken, or certain vegetables, including roasted carrots or Brussels sprouts. $10.95 for a six-ounce jar.
Texas Hill Country’s Apricot Balsamic Vinegar can be used in salad dressings, marinades, or drizzling over desserts such as vanilla ice cream. $10.00 for a 3.4-ounce bottle.
Rutherford and Meyer’s Apricot Fruit Paste is made with no artificial colors or flavors and is especially good with camembert and brie cheese. $7.00 for 4.2-ounces.
Vanilla Plum Cream imported from Bordeaux’s countryside consists of plums whipped into a cream blended with vanilla bean and sugar. This silky and rich spread is delicious on croissants or crepes, on ice cream, or in oatmeal. $16 for a 7.8-ounce jar.
Girl Meets Dirt’s Shiro Plum with Mint Spoon Preserves is a 2019 and 2016 Good Food Awards Winner and is excellent on toast, served with cheese, and on meats and poultry. $14 for a 7.75-ounce jar.
INNA santa rose PLUM shrub is a fruit-vinegar-sugar syrup that can be used mixed with sparkling water or in cocktails (especially good in gin drinks). The flavors of cherry, spice, and amaretto shine through in this syrup. $14.95 for a 7.5-ounce bottle.
Seaquist Orchard’s Cherry Lavender Jam can be used on toast, pancakes, waffles, or yogurt. $6.99 for a 10-ounce jar.
Stonewall Kitchen Tillen Farms Rainier Reserve Cherries aren’t the typical deep red, bourbon-soaked cherries often found garnishing your Manhattan. Instead, these cherries are golden with a caramel flavor to match. They are recommended for use in spritzers and champagne cocktails. $7.95 for a 13.5-ounce jar.
Cherry Republic’s Cherry Barbecue Sauce is described as rich and tangy and can be used on everything from ribs to bratwurst. $9.95 for a 17-ounce jar.
Nutritional Considerations for Stone Fruit
|Apricots||One cup (halves):|
17 grams carbohydrate
3 grams fiber
0.1 mg copper (6% DV)
0.1 mg manganese (6% DV)
401 mg potassium (11% DV)
2985 IU vitamin A (60% DV)
15.5 mg vitamin C (26% DV)
1.4 mg vitamin E (7% DV)
5.1 mcg vitamin K (6% DV)
|Apricots are especially good for the eyes and may help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. |
Apricots are believed to help maintain healthy skin and to prevent sun damage.
|Cherries (sweet)||One cup:|
22 grams carbohydrate
3 grams fiber
0.1 mg manganese (5% DV)
306 mg potassium (9% DV)
9.7 mg vitamin C (16% DV)
|Tart cherries might help to decrease pain and inflammation post-workout and might improve exercise performance.|
Tart cherries are believed to improve symptoms of gout and arthritis, thanks to their anti-inflammatory qualities.
Tart cherry juice improves sleep quality for individuals who suffer from insomnia.
15 grams carbohydrate
2 grams fiber
0.1 mg copper (6% DV)
287 mg potassium (8% DV)
475 mg vitamin A (9% DV)
7.7 mg vitamin C (13% DV)
1.1 mg vitamin E (6% DV)
1.6 mg niacin (8% DV)
|Like apricots, nectarines are good for eye health. |
The antioxidants in nectarines protect against cellular damage.
17 grams carbohydrate
3 grams fiber
570 IU vitamin A (11% DV)
11.6 mg vitamin C (19% DV)
1.3 mg vitamin E (6% DV)
4.6 mcg vitamin K (6% DV)
1.4 mg niacin (7% DV)
|85% of peaches are water—which might help keep you full and prevent overeating.|
Peaches might be especially good for immunity.
|Plums||One cup, sliced:|
19 grams carbohydrate
2 grams fiber
259 mg potassium (7% DV)
0.1 mg copper (5% DV)
569 IU vitamin A (11% DV)
15.7 mg vitamin C (26% DV)
10.6 mcg vitamin K (13% DV)
|Plums might be especially good for bone health. |
Plums might increase levels of adiponectin in the body, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels.