Is the humble nectarine really the fruit of the gods? Or just a veeted peach?
Let’s go back 2000 years to rural China. Can you imagine it? No, me neither, I don’t have a clue what China would’ve looked like when Jesus was roaming around. One day, upon a peach tree, a smooth hairless nectarine was plucked from it’s branch. Biting into the now fuzzless peach the sweet, juicy flesh was compared to that of nectar, the drink of the gods above earning them their name. The taste of the nectarine was so popular the people of China did not want to share. This meant that the nectarine didn’t journey west for over 1500 years.
But, why were they hoarded for 15 centuries? Let’s get down to the flesh and stones of these amazing fruits.
Nectarines and peaches are only one gene different, scientists call this 'the Veet gene'.
To get to the roots of this plant first you need a tree and plenty of space. In the wild they can grow up to 30ft, which is 7/10ths of the height of a brachiosaurus! However, in a fruit zoo (scientific term: orchard) they only grow to 12ft due to humans being short and not being able to reach the top.
The fruit is also very sensitive. They hate the cold, so much so that they take a long, long break through the winter to hibernate like bears. This hatred of the cold made them an exceptionally popular crop in sunny California. However, in the Nectarine Olympics they don’t even receive a medal. China dominates the market producing over 14,000,000 metric tonnes a year, 66% of all the nectarines in the world. Spain takes the silver with a mere 1,700,000 and Greece getting the bronze medal.
Peaches and nectarines grow on the same trees- you will never know which one you'll get.
Wait so, almost all of our nectarines are imported? What about my carbon footprint? Is the juicy goodness not so good for the environment? Well, in comparison to everything else they’re practically angelic.
They use a minimal amount of water, approximately 910litres per kg of nectarines and if few to no pesticides are used then the environmental damage is minimal. Their carbon footprint isn’t so bad either, don’t believe me? Here’s the maths:
Now that your conscious is clear to consume as many nectarines as you like, what do they taste good with?
Herbs & Spices- Black pepper, mint, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, cardamom, tarragon & vanilla
Fruit & Veg- Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, figs, lemon, lime, mangoes, strawberries, apricot, salad roughage, plums & peaches
Dairy- Blue cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, double cream, yoghurt, ice cream, goat cheese, mascarpone, mozzarella & burrata
Sweet- Honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, agave, demerara sugar & caramel
Savoury- Chicken, bacon, prosciutto, quinoa & oats
Nuts- Almonds, macadamia & hazelnuts.
Nectarines are best eaten warm from the tree...
… however, very few of us have one planted in our back garden. So instead, pop out to get a punnet, put one in the microwave for about 15 seconds then bite into the jammy texture, imagining you’re in Southern Italy instead of your kitchen.