Insider’s Viewpoint: All About Stone Fruit
Did you know that peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries are all members of the rose family? In spring, the trees on which these fruits grow are covered with small, five-petalled blossoms that develop into succulent fruits which ripen by early to late summer. These fruits are commonly called “stone fruits” because the flesh surrounds a large, stone-like pit which contains the seed.
Stone fruits have a relatively short growing season so enjoy them fresh while you can. If you have an abundant supply of these fruits, and the time and energy, they are great options for canning, preserving, or freezing. Otherwise, you’ll find that your local grocery store carries peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries in various forms for year-round enjoyment. Remember, all forms count when it comes to including more fruit!
Ideas for All Forms of Stone Fruit
Fresh – Eat any of these fruits out-of-hand or chop and add to cereal, pancakes, smoothies or parfaits. Slice in half and grill just until striped, then serve drizzled with honey over frozen yogurt. Chop and add balsamic vinegar and green onions for a simple salsa to accompany meats. Try something different like a cold fruit soup or go with a traditional cherry or peach pie. Add sliced peaches, plums and cherries to water to create a beautiful and refreshing beverage.
Frozen – Peaches and sweet cherries freeze well and are convenient for making smoothies. Frozen tart cherries are great for pies and cobblers.
Canned – You can always count on the consistency of canned peaches – and check out the price per pound! For a quick dessert, top sliced canned peaches with granola and warm for a few seconds in the microwave.
Juice or Nectar – Look for 100% juice when purchasing these products. Apricot nectar tastes heavenly by itself, or you can add some to green tea, mix it with seltzer, or use in place of broth to de-glaze a pan after browning chicken. Pucker up to cherry juice, which is touted for its anti-inflammatory health benefits. And raise a glass to prune juice for digestive health, not because it has lots of fiber but because the fruit contains sorbitol, a natural laxative.
Dried – Add dried apricots or cherries to scones, muffins, breads and fruitcake. Prunes and dried apricots add sweetness to poultry or pork stuffings. Combine these dried fruits with nuts for a trail mix or to make charoset. Suggested fruit and nut pairings: peaches with pecans, apricots with pistachios, prunes with walnuts, cherries with almonds. (By the way, almonds are also a member of the rose family.)
Almond Chicken with Peach Relish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Ready in: 40 minutes
Makes 4 servings, 8 oz. each
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 Tablespoons plain bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped almonds
- 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups diced peaches, leave skins on
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup sliced green onions
Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat baking dish with cooking spray. Cut chicken into slices and place in baking dish. Combine bread crumbs, almonds, Parmesan and pepper. Coat chicken evenly. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Combine diced peaches, lemon juice, green onions and pepper to taste. Serve baked chicken with peach relish on the side.
Per Serving: 210 calories, 5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 7g sugars, 27g protein
Sylvia Emberger, RD, LDN