So you have this bag of nectarines and they look very tasty, with their plush orange skin. Of course, you can peel them and pop out the pit then just munch them like a normal fruit. But what if you want to do more than that? Here are the top 7 things to do with nectarines from drinks to desserts.
Nectarine nutritional value
First, you may ask – why would I want to eat nectarines? What are their nutritional value? Okay, let’s have a little look at the fruit before we start. Nectarines as a type of peach, separated from its cousin because it has a smooth, fuzzless skin. They are a similar size to peaches ad have an orange coloured skin with a yellow flesh. These fruit originated in China and have a similar taste to peaches though are described as a bit more acidic.
That bright orange colour is the indicator of the first benefit of nectarines – beta-carotene. This is an antioxidant that protects our bodies against those nasty little free radicals that cause aging and so many other problems. The body also turns beta-carotene into vitamin A when needed and uses it to make sure skin, teeth, bones and soft tissue remains healthy.
Each nectarine also contains around 8 grams of Vitamin C. This is used by the body for all sorts of jobs including making new skin, repairing tendons and ligaments as well as healing wounds. Plus, it is an antioxidant that fights cancer, heart disease and conditions such as arthritis.
Fibre is another crucial element that the body needs and nectarines have around 10% of the required daily needs of dietary fibre. This is the stuff that makes you feel full and helps cut back on those mid-meal snacks. It is also great for digestion.
When is a nectarine ready to eat?
Whether you want to eat them as they are, pop them in a nectarine smoothie or use them in a dessert, the important thing to know is when a nectarine is ready to eat. Nectarines are at their sweetest and juiciest when they are fresh, unlike some fruit like banana that can ripen for a while in the fruit bowl. They should smell fresh and sweet when you sniff them.
Their red-orange colour isn’t the best indicator of ripeness but the background colour of the fruit does. Look out for a uniform golden or creamy shade with no hints of green – this is a sign of being unripe.
Lastly, there’s the push test. Give the fruit a little push with your thumb – they should be nice and firm. If they are soft or give to much when you press then, pop them back on the shelf and move to the next one.
You can store nectarines at room temperature for a day or so or you can even keep them in a bag in the fridge as well. But use them quickly to get the best, sweetest taste.
One easy way to get the benefits of nectarines is in drinks with smoothies being one easy example – but not the only one.
Take two nectarines, remove the pit and chop. Add them with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a cup of buttermilk to the blender. Blend until smooth and serve.
- 2 nectarines
- 1 banana
- 1 orange
- 1 cup vanilla yoghurt
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp. honey
Prepare all the fruit, removing skins and pits. Cut into pieces then add to a blender with the liquids and the honey. Blend until smooth and serve.
Nectarine Infused Water
- ½ small cucumber
- ½ nectarine
- ½ lemon + juice of remaining half
- ½ lime + juice of remaining half
- 4 slices ginger root
- 10 lemon balm leaves
Prepare the fruit, slicing everything and removing pits. Add to a large pitcher or an infused water jug and fill up with water. You can add a touch of sweeter if you want to take away the sharp citrus flavour. Refrigerate for at least two hours but ideally overnight then if you are using a normal jug, strain into a glass. Add some ice to keep it cool.
- 1 red apple
- 1 green apple (Granny Smith etc)
- 1 nectarine
- 2 stalks celery
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 8 ounces’ non-fat yoghurt (lemon or your preferred flavour)
Prepare the ingredients, removing cores and chopping into pieces of your preferred size. Add to a large bowl and mix together then add the yoghurt. The recipe called for a non-fat lemon variety but really you could use any you like. Chill everything then serve.
Wine poached nectarines with vanilla cream
- 500ml white wine
- 120g caster sugar
- 2 strips lemon peel
- 2 x ½ vanilla pod
- 4 nectarines
- 150ml double cream
- 1 tbsp. icing sugar
To make, put the wine, sugar, lemon and one half a vanilla pod into a pan and add 200ml of water. Bring it to the boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Cut a cross into the base of each nectarine and submerge in the mixture. Poach for 15-20 until they are tender.
Remove the nectarines and put them in a bowl to cool. Peel the fruit and pop the skin back in the pan. Boil up and reduce by around one third then throw away the skins and pour the syrup over the fruit again.
To make the vanilla cream, whisk cream, icing sugar and vanilla until you get soft peaks in the moisture. Add this to the fruit and syrup.
Baked Nectarines with almonds
- 6 nectarines
- 100g amaretti biscuits
- 100g butter
- 85g ground almonds
- 85g golden caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. toasted almond flakes
- 250ml marsala
- Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche to serve
Heat the oven to 180C and put the halves nectarines with pits removed into a baking tray. Make sure they are snug and won’t move around. In a bowl, bash the amaretti biscuits into little pieces and then add the butter, almonds, caster sugar and the egg then mix up.
Spoon the biscuit mixture into the holes left by the pits of the nectarines and don’t worry if it spills into the top. scatter with some almond flakes and pour the Marsala carefully into the gaps so it seeps into the fruit. Bake in the oven for around 40-50 minutes until golden and crisp then serve with either Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche. Don’t forget to pour any juices back over so not to waste them!
Nectarine upside down cake
- 1 tbsp. butter, softened
- 50g light brown sugar
- 4 nectarines
- 150g butter
- 150g granulated sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 110ml Greek yoghurt
Grease an 8inch cake tin and then line it. Take the tbsp. butter and smear it on the lining then sprinkle with brown sugar. Put a layer of nectarines on the bottom and put it to one side.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the rest of the ingredients and whisk (hand whisk out again!) before pouring onto the nectarines. Smooth it out and bake in the oven for around 1 hour 10 minutes until it is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to sit for around 15 minutes. Then release from the tin and turn upside down carefully. Serve it warm or cool with cream or custard.
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