The nectarine is a rounded fruit with a single central groove. Its smooth skin is blushed with hues of ruby, pink and gold throughout. The flesh is perfumed with aromatics, overtly juicy when ripe, and golden colored with red bleeds at the skin and surrounding the central rough pit. A ripe nectarine's texture is soft with a melting quality, its flavors balanced with layers both bright and sweet.
Nectarines are available year-round with a peak season during late spring and summer.
Nectarines are the result of a natural occurring genetic mutation of the peach. Nectarines, botanical name, Prunus persica nucipersica, are a stone fruit and species within the genus, Prunus, alongside cherries, apricots, plums and almonds. There are two types of nectarines: yellow-fleshed and white fleshed. White-fleshed nectarines are typically low or sub-acid while yellow-fleshed nectarines are both sweet and tart.
A nectarine seed is considered highly inedible as it can contain high levels of poisonous hydrogen cyanide. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. The fruit of nectarine has high levels of beta carotene, calcium and vitamin C. Herbalists use the branches and leaves of nectarine trees as a demulcent, for stomach disorders and as a kidney and intestine detoxant.
Nectarines are suitable to be used in any recipe calling for peaches. They are best for eating fresh out of hand, yet they can also be poached, grilled, made into a compote, syrup, jelly and infused into drinks or added to dessert recipes such as cakes, pies and ice cream. Nectarines pair well with other stone fruit such as apricots, cherries and almonds, citrus, berries, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, cream and custards. Savory pairings include herbs such as basil, cilantro and arugula, hazelnut and pistachio nuts and oil, aged cheeses such as parmesan and mild cheeses such as ricotta and burrata, sausages, pork belly and grilled fish. The flowers of nectarine trees can be steeped and used to impart flavors in teas.