Hello, from all us nectarines. Now, some of you may be a little confused as to what we are. Some people think we're a plum, while others think we're a hairless peach. That's why we're here to tell you all about ourselves, so you'll be able to recognise us in the fruit shops and take us home with you.
Firstly,we're stone fruit and are related to peaches, cherries, plums and loquats. We grow on trees and are a bit like peaches without the fuzz. Our smooth skin is red in colour on a yellow to pale yellow background whilst our flesh can vary from almost white, yellow to almost red. Each of us has a pointed, furrowed, egg-shaped seed in the middle which either comes away easily (freestone), or is difficult to remove (clingstone).
We're available from September to April but at our peak in January and February.
We're sold by flesh colour – yellow-fleshed or white-fleshed. There are many, many varieties, some of the most popular of which are the Swanzee, Artic Sweet, Snow Queen, Firebrite, Fantasia, August Glo and Flaming Red.
Our parent plant is a small deciduous tree, 5-7 metres by 3-5 metres, with long, narrow leaves, which have very finely serrated edges. Its flowers can vary from deep rose-pink to almost white. It prefers warm dry weather and sandy well drained soil.
We're hand picked when we're near maturity (when we turn from green to yellow) and still firm enough to travel without bruising.
Select those of us which are fragrant, firm, plump and richly coloured with smooth, glossy skin.
Ripen us in a fruit bowl. Ripe fruit will have yellow, red or orange colour at the stem end. Refrigerate ripe fruit in a sealed plastic bag. Use within 2-3 days.
Our history is linked with the peach and it appears China is our place of origin. However, records show that we came to Europe from Persia, and then into England in the 16th century. From there we spread into the New World.
We have probably been grown in Australia from the early days of European settlement.
We belong to two groups – freestone where the stone is easily removed and cling stone where it clings. The latter can be a little more difficult to prepare but both can be eaten whole or cut, preferably with our skin on.
We're delicious fresh and added to fruit salads, breakfast cereals, ice creams, salads and drinks. Poach, saute, bake or microwave and add to meat, fish and chicken dishes, puddings and sauces.
Nectarine And Macaroon Flan
Peel and slice 700g nectarines and arrange in a 25cm prepared pastry case. Sprinkle lightly with 75g sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, cover with foil and bake 10 minutes at 180ÌC. Finely crush 100g macaroon (coconut biscuits) and mix with 150ml cream and 3 tablespoons milk. Spread over fruit and bake 20 minutes at 200ÌC. Serve hot or cold.
Nectarine And Fish
Marinate 4 thick fish fillets in the juice of 2 limes for 20 minutes. Pan-fry until nearly cooked. Remove and pan-fry 2 sliced nectarines, with skin on, in 1 tablespoon butter and 1-2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce for 2 minutes. Return fish to pan and heat 1-2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts.
Peel and cut 4 nectarines in quarters. Mix with 1/3 cup marsala and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Pan-fry nectarines in melted butter over a high heat until golden. Serve hot or chilled with ice cream, sprinkled with macadamia nuts.