Peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and grapes

Summer Stone Fruits

In Season: Peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums (June-Sept); grapes (July-Sept)

Health Benefits: High in antioxidants and good sources of vitamin C, stone fruits inhibit fat accumulation and can help fight diabetes and obesity. The antioxidant, chlorogenic acid, in peaches and plums helps fight cancer and other chronic diseases, and can reduce the effects of aging. Eating plums can also help increase the body’s absorption of iron and lower the risk of age-related damage to the retina. In addition, nectarines are a good source of beta-carotene, which enables the body to produce vitamin A. Grapes are chockfull of health-giving phytonutrients, especially antioxidants, and offer anti-flammatory benefits. They have been shown to improve cholesterol and blood pressure regulation, and boast anti-aging and longevity benefits. Grapes also have a low GI value and can aid blood sugar balance.

How to Prepare: When at their peak, peaches, nectarines, plums and grapes are best eaten fresh, out of hand or tossed into salads. Don't forget that much of their nutrients reside within or just below their skins. Alternatively, stone fruits can be roasted, poached or sautéed. Serve them on their own or with yoghurt, ice cream, cake or even a savoury dish such as a roast. They are also delicious in pies, tarts and galettes. Grapes can be served roasted with pork or poultry, or tossed into Thai red curry. Grapes are also delicious in sorbets and gelatins.

What to Look For: Peaches, plums and nectarines should yield slightly when gently squeezed. Peaches and nectarines should not have wrinkly skin; plums should be deeply coloured and not have brown spots. Select plump, evenly coloured grapes that are unblemished. The skin should not be wrinkled and the fruit should be firmly attached to the stem. Be sure to wash them thoroughly.

How to Store: Stone fruit can be ripened at room temperature. Place them stem-side down. Once the peaches and nectarines develop an aromatic perfume, place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Ripe plums will lose their sheen and have dull skins. Grapes should be refrigerated, unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag. Consume them within a week.

Organic peaches, nectarines, plums and grapes from the US are currently available at SuperNature Forum and online. Look out for the more unique stone fruits like figs, cherries and donut peaches, available very seasonally!