Guide to Summer Stone Fruits (+6 easy recipes) August 4, 2017
They’re juicy, they’re sweet, and they’re in season right. now. Without further ado, we present to you… stone fruits!
What are stone fruits?
Also known as drupes, stone fruits are thin-skinned, warm weather fruits with a succulent, soft flesh and — as its name suggests — a hard seed, pit, or stone in the middle. They’re in peak season from June through September, which means now is the time to embrace these beauts and all their flavor and nutrition in both sweet and savory dishes.
Historical tidbit: Although plums were beloved by the ancient Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans, it was the Chinese who first cultivated them.
How to select: Plums can be as small as a cherry or as large as a baseball. They come round, elongated, or heart-shaped– so don’t be put off if they look a little wonky. Opt for ones that are well colored and firm to the touch without major blemishes. Keep in mind that the silvery-gray, filmy-looking coating on the skin is totally natural and doesn’t affect quality.
How to store: Ripen at room temperature for a few days. Once ripe, refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.
Nutritional claim to fame: Vitamin A (to keep your eyes and bones healthy) and potassium (to help regulate blood pressure and strengthen those muscles).
Pairs well with: Allspice, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, orange, red or white wine, yogurt.
Did you know? Japanese plums are larger and have a juicier, softer flesh whereas European plums are small and firm with a less sweet, yellow-gold flesh.
Almond Plum Tart
When it comes to tarts, this is as easy as can be. Just whip together the condensed milk and cream cheese, layer on the plums, and bake. We included ingredients and instructions for homemade crust, but feel free to use a store-bought puff pastry if you’re short on time.
- For the crust:
- 2 Ounces (1/4 Cup) Cold Unsalted Butter
- 4 1/2 Ounces (1 Cup) Pastry Flour
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 3-4 Tablespoons Cold Water
- For the filling:
- 2/3 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 3 Tablespoons Softened Cream Cheese
- 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 4-5 Plums, thinly sliced
- Slivered Almonds, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Cut butter into chunks and add to a bowl with flour and salt. Use a food processor to pulse until just barely combined but still slightly crumbly. Transfer dough to a bowl to form a ball, adding ice water as necessary. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.
- Remove dough from fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to tart pan, press down, and prick a few times with a fork (to prevent air bubbles from forming while it’s baking). Place in oven and bake 5-8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add condensed milk and cream cheese to a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add almond and vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
- Remove crust from oven and let cool slightly before pouring in mixture. Layer fruit on top, sprinkle with almonds, and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
Historical tidbit: Peaches are native to China (where they were revered as a symbol of longevity and immortality) and arrived to Europe by way of Persia, which explains why they were once known as “Persian apples.”
How to select: Keep an eye out for intensely fragrant fruit that gives slightly to pressure while avoiding ones with signs of greening. The stem end of the peach should be yellow or cream-colored.
How to store: Refrigerate ripe peaches in a plastic bag for up to 5 days. Not ripening fast enough? Place in a paper bag with a few small holes and set aside at room temperature for a couple days. To speed up the process even further, toss in an apple. The ethylene gas it emits will cause your peaches to ripen faster.
Nutritional claim to fame: Vitamins C (to boost your immunity) and A.
Pairs well with: Almonds, cinnamon, ginger, honey, pistachios, pork, poultry, vanilla, walnuts.
Did you know? Peaches fall into one of two categories: freestone (stone or pit falls easily away from the flesh) or clingstone (fruit adheres more strongly to the pit).
(On the menu the week of 8/12 – 8/18!)
The natural sweetness of the peaches pairs perfectly with peppery arugula, honey, and tender pork — with a bed of fluffy couscous to tie it all together. Get the recipe here. Better yet, order it off our menu to get everything you need delivered straight to your doorstep.
Historical tidbit: Nectarines, whose name is derived from the Greek word for “sweet liquid,” are thought to have originated as a mutant of the peach.
How to select: Look for fragrant, brightly colored fruit that gives slightly to pressure. Avoid those with large bruises or ones that are overly green.
How to store: Ripen at room temperature for a few days. Once ripe, refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Nutritional claim to fame: Same deal as peaches… vitamins C and A.
Pairs well with: Almonds, hazelnuts, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, lemon, lime, basil, mint, vanilla.
Did you know? The nectarine’s flesh is sweeter and firmer than that of the peach. It also boasts a smooth skin compared to the fuzzy exterior of peaches.
A quick flash in a hot pan transforms juicy nectarines from sweet to nearly candy-like. Tossed with perfectly seared steak, tangy feta, and summery basil, this salad is bound to become a part of your weekly repertoire. Get the recipe here.
Historical tidbit: The Greeks wrongly believed that the apricot originated in Armenia (when it actually originated in China), which explains its botanical name “Prunus armeniaca.”
How to select: Select plump fruit with a vibrant golden orange color while avoiding ones that are paler or greenish yellow. Keep in mind that minor blemishes that don’t break the skin won’t affect quality.
How to store: If unripe, store at room temperature for a few days, placing in a closed paper bag to speed up the process. Refrigerate ripe apricots unwashed in a paper or plastic bag for 2-3 days.
Nutritional claim to fame: Dietary fiber (to keep you feeling full and protect your heart), vitamin A, and iron.
Pairs well with: Cardamom, honey, lamb, orange, pork, poultry, vanilla.
Did you know? California produces about 90% of the apricots in the United States.
Broiled Apricots with Greek Yogurt, Pecans, and Mint
A fresh, light, and easy dessert perfect for those long summer nights. Feel free to grill if you’d rather not heat up the oven.
- 4 Apricots, halved and pitted
- Greek Yogurt
- Pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
- Mint, chopped
- Preheat broiler. Drizzle apricot halves with honey and broil until caramelized and tender, 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with Greek yogurt, pecans, and mint.
Historical tidbit: The mango originated in Southeast Asia, where it has been grown for over 4,000 years. Today, about 2/3 of the world’s mangoes are sourced from India.
How to select: Avoid fruits with a sour or alcohol smell as well as shriveled or spotted ones (although a few brown marks are normal).
How to store: Leave at room temperature until the flesh yields slightly to pressure. Once ripe, refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Nutritional claim to fame: Vitamins A and C.
Pairs well with: Avocado, chicken, cilantro, cucumber, lime juice, pineapple, bell pepper.
Did you know? Depending on variety, a mango’s skin can be yellowish orange, yellowish green, or yellowish red.
Adobo sauce, which is made from ground chiles, herbs, and vinegar, makes the perfect marinade. Cool lime crema and sweet mango slaw help balance out the subtle heat in these irresistible tacos. Get the recipe here.
Historical tidbit: Cherries, which were named after the Turkish town of Cerasus, date back to 300 B.C.
How to select: Look for firm, bright, and glossy cherries with red or purple color (the deeper the color, the sweeter the taste) and crisp, green stems. Avoid cherries that are shriveled or dull as well as ones with dark and brittle stems.
How to store: Refrigerate for 1-2 days and wash just before using.
Nutritional claim to fame: Potassium (to help lower blood pressure), anthocyanin (to combat inflammation), and melatonin (to help establish regular sleep patterns).
Pairs well with: Almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, pork, red wine, sour cream, yogurt.
Did you know? There are two main types of cherries: sweet (larger, firm, heart-shaped) and sour (smaller, softer, and more globe-shaped).
Herbed Goat Cheese and Cherry Balsamic Crostini
If goat cheese is involved, we’re probably not that far away. But goat cheese and cherries? Say no more.
- 25 1/2-Inch Thick Baguette Slices, toasted
- Olive Oil
- 4 Ounces (1/2 Cup) Goat Cheese
- 1/4 Cup Mixed Herbs (basil, chives, dill, and parsley), chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- 3 Cups Cherries, halved and pitted
- 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place baguette slices on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake until browned and crisp, 5-8 minutes. Set aside to let cool.
- Stir together goat cheese and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add cherries and balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread baguette slices with herbed goat cheese and top with a spoonful of balsamic-glazed cherries.