Nectarines: picking, selecting, storing
24 Oct 2013 09.54 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Food historians believe nectarines originated in China about 2000 years ago and then made there away through to the Mediterranean where they were cultivated in Persia, Rome and Greece. This summer fruit then took roots in Europe before being brought by the Spaniards to North America where it continues to flourish. It’s no surprise that nectarines undertook this extensive voyage, considering they are undeniably delicious. Nectarines can be eaten fresh, poached or baked into a variety of delicious cakes like Nectarine Cobbler and Nectarine Golden Cake. Nectarines taste great and are high in Vitamin C and Potassium.
When picking a nectarine you should primarily use two senses: sight and feel. Despite their predominantly red colouration, the real trick for spotting a nectarine that is ready to be harvested is when their secondary colour changes from green to yellow. Since nectarines will continue to ripen off the tree, depending on when you are planning to consume it, you may want to pick a firm nectarine. This will also prevent the inevitable bruising that can occur when picking this soft-skinned fruit.
To pick a nectarine use the familiar twist and snap method. Grasp the nectarine firmly – but make sure you use the full length of your fingers not just your fingertips – this will help prevent bruising and indentation. Then twist the fruit on an angle and snap it from the tree. A ripe nectarine should separate easily from the tree.
When selecting nectarines from the grocery store rather than from the tree, you might want to choose a slightly softer fruit. The once firm nectarines will have softened a little through the distribution process that channels them from farm to shopping cart.
Hold the fruit in your hand and give it a little squeeze. The test for softness here is really a consistency that you would be happy to bite into. If the nectarine is too hard, it may be unripe, whereas if it is too soft it could be overripe and squishy. Pick a nectarine that has a gentle give to its skin, but not so much that it will bruise at your touch.
The rules for colour are the same as when picking from the tree. Green is a no go. Look for nectarines with a red blush and a yellow secondary colouration. Avoid nectarines with spots, blemishes and scars as these fruit could ripen early.
Nectarines are an extremely delicate fruit and ripen very quickly. To capture maximal flavour, leave them out in a fruit bowl until they are fully ripe before eating. Normally, this takes around 2 to 3 days. You should only refrigerate ripe nectarines – once ripe they will last between 3 and 5 days in the refrigerator. Nectarines can be frozen for up to 12 months.
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