Although I said my next post would be about Anderson Ranch and what I saw on the marsh boat trip, I didn’t feel like writing about that today. Today my interest was focused on a question that came up when I was putting away my Farmers Market purchases from this morning. The question: Why do I always pick white nectarines and peaches over the yellow varieties? I know it’s not because I don’t have a choice. I do. They are almost always displayed side-by-side at the Farmers Market. They are both right there in front of me yet just about every time I come home with either white nectarines or peaches. Most often it’s white nectarines.
From what I have read the main difference between yellow and white nectarines is the amount of acid they contain. This holds true for peaches, the fuzzy-skinned version of the nectarine, too. Lower acid = sweeter fruit. The word nectarine means “sweet as nectar” and some say that is most likely the origin of the name. You can’t say that about the yellow fleshed versions, which tend to have a tangy taste.
Actually, nectarines are a cultivar group of peaches belonging to the same species as peaches. Genetic studies have concluded nectarines are created due to a recessive gene, whereas fuzzy peach skin is dominant. Peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may grow into trees that can bear either nectarines or peaches. Because it’s impossible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee the tree will only produce nectarines.
According to several articles I read, the history of the nectarine is unclear; the first recorded mention is from 1616 but they probably had been grown much earlier. Early records of the peach however, occur in central and eastern Asia as early 2000 BC. From there the peach was brought to India, then through Persia, until it reached Greece around 300 BC. It is said that Alexander the Great introduced it to Europe after he conquered the Persians. Romans began cultivating peaches in the first century AD and they were brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and eventually they made it to England and France in the 17th century. One publication mentions nectarines being raised on a farm in Jamaica, Long Island, New York as early as 1768. However and whenever by whoever, I’m grateful they arrived here. They are one of my summer favorites.
So now you, like me, know probably more that you wanted to know about nectarines and peaches and I know I always choose white nectarines because they are “sweet as nectar”.
For those of you wanting to try your nectarines in a baked treat, here’s a yummy little recipe from Donna Hay’s book, Entertaining. I found it while poking around looking for nectarine facts and it seemed like the perfect recipe to try. She describes these Little Nectarine Cakes as “being perfect partners for a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon latte”. Taking her advice I mixed up a batch and put them in the oven. As they baked their aroma filled my kitchen and then then the timer rang. They were ready. I carefully moved them from the oven to the cooling rack and let them sit for around ten minutes, then I gently took them out of the pan and before I knew what was happening I broke off a nice piece and popped it in my mouth. It was still hot and moist and oh so tasty. I know, no self discipline. Not only no self discipline, no remorse either. I’ll try the next one with my morning coffee tomorrow. I definitely recommend you try them warm from the oven or reheated. They would also be good served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or perhaps whipped cream with a little orange or lemon zest. The only changes I made were; I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and added sliced almonds to the topping. You could also substitute other fruits like apricots, plums or peaches if you don’t have nectarines. They’re easy to make and delicious.
Now that the nectarine questions are answered maybe I can get motivated to finish the Road Trip post. That won’t be as much fun as this post was since there’s no warm cake to look forward to. That is unless, I make more.