Q: Where does our Stonefruit come from?
The Australian stone fruit season is underway with early season peaches, nectarines and cherries now available.
Drupes (stone fruits) are fleshy fruits whose seed is encased in a stone at its centre- peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, apricots (and almonds) all belong to this family. Stone fruit can be broken down into; clingstone, freestone or semi-cling fruits. It is difficult to tell from the appearance of the fruit whether it’s a clinger or a free spirit, so ask your supplier to confirm which they have in stock.
Stone clings to the fruit at all stages of maturity and needs to be pried off. Good eating but more time consuming to prepare. Best for: jams, jellies, sauces, purees.
Flesh separates easily from the stone allowing for attractive slices to be produced. Freestone are the most popular varieties. Best for: any dish where the appearance of the fruit is important
A hybrid of clingstone and freestone, the stone separates from the pit when fully ripe. Tend to be smaller than freestone. Best for: everything, good all-rounder
Peaches and nectarines are the first stone fruits to hit the markets in summer, so here’s the low down on the much loved Persian Apple and its shaved fraternal twin.
Despite the rather common belief that the nectarine is a cross between a peach and a plum, peaches and nectarines are actually the same species. A nectarine is really just a peach whose recessive gene came up trumps in the DNA lottery.
As there are a vast number of peach and nectarine varieties produced in Australia (often with a very short season), it is common practice to group them by the colour of their flesh (i.e. yellow or white) rather than listing the individual variety.
Most popular varieties in Australia, yellow flesh are usually the first peaches on the market. Tangy and tasty. Availability: September – March
Season starts slightly later than yellow flesh varieties, though there is an early variety available in October. With less sub-acid varieties, these tend to be a juicy, sweet alternative. Availability: October- March
These have always been more common, though recently white flesh have closed the gap. A mix of sweet and light acid flavours. Availability: November – March
Hold the acid, these are sweet and fragrant. Availability: November to March
To get the juices flowing, here are some tasty stone fruit recipes from entrée to dessert:
A: Approximately 100,000 tonnes of summer stonefruit is produced between October and April each year, by over 1200 growers. Early season produce comes from sub-tropical QLD (20% of total production), northern WA and NSW. This is then followed by crops from mid to southern NSW, parts of VIC (Swan Hill) and the Riverland of SA. Fruit from the cooler climates is last to market. Renmark, Swan Hill and the Goulburn Valley (Shepparton and Cobram) represent more than 50% of Australia’s summer stonefruit production, while Tasmania produces all the Australian-grown apricots harvested in mid January to February. Source: Summerfruit Australia