Return Home
What's In Season Ask Produce Pete
Return Home
Show On WNBC Show On WCAU
Biography Produce Pete's Book
Gift Baskets Produce Pete's Recipes Gift Ideas

Tree-Ripened Nectarines

  • Peaches and Nectarines that have that just picked look and flavor.
  • Naturally ripened on the tree for prolonged freshness.
  • Grown and harvested for the exclusive purpose of Treeripe.
  • Soil nutrients supplied by organic fertilizers.
  • Delicate hands on harvesting and packing.
  • Harvested close to the packing facility in small harvest containers.
  • Fruit in its' natural state with no post harvest preservatives or waxes applied.
  • Hand packed in 1 layer boxes to eliminate bruising, enhance cooling, and increase shelf life.
  • Growers and retailers working together to provide the freshest possible Treeripe fruit.

What is Treeripe?

We Define Treeripe

In 1994 we felt that there was a need for treeripe to be defined. Many packers in California were calling their fruit treeripe when in fact it was no different than conventional fruit. Out of this circumstance our treeripe definition was born. The definition is more than just a set of numerical parameters such as sugar and pressure is our core beliefs of how treeripe fruit should be grown, harvested, packed, and shipped.

Treeripe, adj. 1. Peaches and Nectarines that have "Just picked" look and flavor.

I want the consumer to feel the joy of picking a ripe piece of fruit off the tree and eating it. We can't take the tree to the consumer, so we grow, harvest and pack our treeripe fruit so that these characteristics are passed on in full to the consumer.

Storing Fruit

Store treeripe fruit at room temperature in a paper bag until it reaches your desired level of softness. Then put it into your refrigerator to stop the softening process. I know you may be asking yourself if this is Treeripe fruit why is it firm to the touch. Once the fruit has been picked off of the tree the sugar level of the fruit will not increase. Treeripe fruit is left on the tree as long as possible to achieve the highest level of sugar and still arrive at the market without bruises.

Nectarine Sizing

The sizing system used for California nectarines is derived from the original method of place packing tree fruit into layers deep in a wooden lug. Today this type of container is referred to as a two-layer, tray-packed or "panta-pak" box. Nectarine size designations are based on the number of pieces of fruit, which can be placed in this two-layer, tray-packed box. For example, there are 56 pieces of fruit in a two-layer, tray-packed box of size 56 nectarines.

Through the years, the industry has developed a number of additional pack styles including loose-packed volume-fill boxes, consumer bags, single-layer trays and metric boxes. To accommodate every pack style, the sizing system used by the industry today is regulated according to the maximum number of nectarines in an 18-pound sample. Weigh-counts are set for each size designation and are regulated by the industry through third-party inspection at time of packing.

Approximate minimum diameters have been determined for each size designation, but the true standard of size is the weight-count sample. California nectarines, regulated by federal marketing orders, have been inspected to ensure fruit meets minimum weight-counts for the designated size.


Shoulders - The bulge surrounding the stem basin. Shoulders become full and well rounded as the fruit matures on the tree.

Background Color - The yellow color on the skin of peaches and nectarines is the key to determining fruit ripeness. Look for bright yellow to orange colors with no hint of green to indicate a mature piece of fruit.

Blush - The red or bright orange blush on a peach or nectarine is caused by exposure of the fruit to sunlight. This lends a more appealing look to the fruit, but is NOT an indication of ripeness or maturity. Blush may cover anywhere from 10 percent to 100 percent of the fruit surface depending on variety.

Blossom End (tip) - The end opposite the stem. This is often the first part of the fruit to soften when ripe.

Suture - A structural line running from the stem to the blossom end of the fruit. The suture may develop as a cleft or a prominent bulge depending on variety.

Cheek - The sides of the fruit on either side of the suture. The cheeks of well- matured fruit should be plump.

Pit or Stone - The pit or stone (seed) supports the fruit as it hangs from the stem and provides the conduit for nutrients from the tree as the fruit grows. The flesh adheres to the pit in "clingstone" varieties and is easily separated from the pit in "freestone" varieties.

Flesh - The edible inside portion of a peach or nectarine. It can vary slightly in color, but traditional varieties normally have yellow or orange colored flesh. Some varieties may have a darker red flesh radiating from the pits as the fruit matures and ripens. "White flesh" varieties, as the name implies, will have a much paler, almost white appearance.


Most fresh California peaches and nectarines grow in the San Joaquin Valley, just south of Fresno, CA. There are over 200 varieties of peaches and 175 varieties of nectarines sold commercially from California. Summerwhite¨ varieties of peaches and nectarines represent about 20% of the total California peach and nectarine crop.

Status of 2001 Peach and Nectarine Crop in California:

This year's crop is expected to be ripe with high quality peaches and nectarines. While overall production is down approximately 10 percent from last season, quality is very good. Growers are so confident in this year's fruit quality that they've initiated a new program with supermarkets nationwide called "Tasting is Believing" to give shoppers a free preview of this year's harvest. Growers began harvesting peaches and nectarines in late April. Harvest is slightly behind the mark set in 2000, running about seven days later in most major growing areas. Growers are expecting to produce more than 50 million boxes of peaches and nectarines during the 2001 summer season.

How to Tell if Fresh Peaches and Nectarines Are Really Ripe and Ready to Eat:

When fresh California peaches and nectarines are really ripe and ready to eat, the fruit will become very aromatic and give to gentle palm pressure. However, since fruit will not ship well when it is very soft, fruit available in the store may still be firm. Firm tree fruit can be purchased and ripened to perfection easily at home.

How to Ripen Peaches and Nectarines to Juicy, Sweet Perfection at Home:

Simply place peaches and nectarines in a loosely-closed ordinary paper bag and set on the kitchen counter for one to three days - away from direct sunlight. Check daily for ripeness. When ripe, the fruit will become very aromatic and give to gentle palm pressure. After the fruit is ripe, it can be placed in the refrigerator for up to a week or so.

The Wrong Way to Handle Peaches and Nectarines:

Never place firm tree fruit in the refrigerator as this will halt the ripening process and may make the fruit mealy, dry and tasteless. Never store tree fruit in a plastic bag as this may hasten decay. Also, keep tree fruit away from direct sunlight as extreme heat will damage the fruit. When the fruit is ripe and you can keep it in the refrigerator for a week or so. You can tell when peaches and nectarines become really ripe when they become aromatic and give to gentle palm pressure.

How to Prepare Fresh California Peaches and Nectarines:

Preparing fresh California peaches and nectarines is quick and easy; just rinse under cool water and they're ready to use. There is never a need to peel nectarines·or peaches, unless the recipe calls for it, as most peach fuzz is removed when the fruit is packed.

Availability of Fresh California Peaches and Nectarines:

In a normal year, California peaches are available April through October, plums are available May through October and nectarines are available April through September.

The Skinny on Peaches, Plums and Nectarines

Antioxidant-Rich Summer Fruits Are A Natural in Protecting the Skin
May 29, 2001 - REEDLEY, Calif. - As the hot weather sets in, science is ripe with suggestions for healthy summer skin.

In short, practice what you peach.

Consumers stock up each summer on sunscreen, sunglasses, and cover-ups to protect their skin from the sun, but some of the most effective combatants in the battle against the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can be found in the produce section at the local grocery store.

It's no secret that fruits and vegetables are important for good health. According to the National Cancer Institute, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can reduce the risk of cancer. Several national health organizations concur with those recommendations for the prevention of heart disease and other illnesses.

A less well-known fact, however, is that summer fruits like peaches and nectarines also have phytochemicals (chemical compounds produced by plants) that are important for healthy skin. A recent study from the University of California-Davis showed peaches and nectarines from California are good sources of several phytochemicals which act as antioxidants. These compounds are critical in maintaining healthy skin.

Antioxidants are substances that protect the body by capturing free radicals and eliminating them. Free radicals causes cell damage and can contribute to aging. Here's how antioxidants work to protect the skin. People experience two types of aging: intrinsic aging, which is mainly affected by genetics and lifestyle; and photoaging, which refers to skin changes resulting from exposure to UV rays.

Aging happens when there is an imbalance of pro-oxidants - free radicals - and antioxidants in the skin's cells. The sun's UV rays can accelerate free radical production while at the same time depleting antioxidants. Photoaging happens when damage from UV rays affects skin cell function, usually reflected in rougher, drier, wrinkled and less elastic skin.

Antioxidants protect skin cells by counteracting free radical activity. Peaches and nectarines are rich in phytochemicals called phenols that act as antioxidants. Asorbic acid (Vitamin C), carotenoids (orange or red colored substances found in many fruits), and provitamin A/beta-carotene are the most notable.

"Peaches and nectarines are a delicious way for everyone to get their 5-a-day," said Pat Baird, MA, RD, and author of The Pyramid Cookbook. "They are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and now we learn they are good sources of antioxidants which are important to good health and good skin."

"Summer tree fruits have long been considered a delicious source of nutrition, but the fact that the benefits extend to promoting healthy skin is great news for consumers," said Marilyn Dolan, consumer programs director for the California Tree Fruit Agreement, which represents approximately 2,000 peach, plum and nectarines growers in the state of California. "Especially those interested in maintaining a peaches-and-cream complexion."

California tree fruits are available from mid-May through September.

Preparation Tips and Facts

Once fruit is soft, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or more. Depending on the variety, ripe fruit will last for about a week in the refrigerator. But make sure it's ripe before you put it in. Again, an ordinary paper bag is all you need to get your tree fruit really ripe, every time.

Never leave fruit in a plastic bag. Keeping fruit in a plastic bag will hasten decay and can produce off-flavors.

Keep fruit away from the windowsill. Setting fruit on or near your window sill in direct sunlight can cause it to shrivel. High heat actually damages tree fruit.

How to peel peaches. Put them in boiling water for 10 seconds or until the skins split. Plunge them into ice water to cool and prevent cooking. The skins will slip right off.

How to prevent browning on the fruits' cut surfaces. Dip slices of fruit in a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or simply squeeze fresh lemon juice over cut surfaces.

Peaches and nectarines belong to the rose family.

A nectarine is really a distinct fruit all its own. The nectarine and the peach are very similar. In fact, there is only one gene that separates the two to make them distinct. The nectarine has one recessive gene. Can you guess what that gene does not include? You got it! Fuzz.

Which came first-the nectarine or the peach? Prominent pomologist, such as Luther Burbank, have argued that the nectarine actually predates the peach and that the nectarine, not the peach, represents the ancestral form. Nectarines take their name from the drink of the Olympic gods called "nectar."

Select High Quality Fruit

How do you know you are buying a good quality peach or nectarine? It may be easier than you think. If you're buying fruit to eat tonight, it is best to look for fruit that is soft, gives to gentle palm pressure and has a sweet aroma.

However, quality does not depend on softness. Even firm peaches and nectarines will ripen to juicy perfection at home. So, don't be afraid to buy them. Buying firm fruit is very much like buying a green banana or a hard avocado. It will become soft, sweet and juicy if handled properly.

The best indicator of high quality fruit is color. For peaches and nectarines, check to make sure the "background" color is yellow with no hint of green. Don't worry about how much red color is on the fruit, this will vary by variety. The yellow color is what's important.

Ripen Fruit in a Paper Bag

It's easy to ripen firm peaches or nectarines. Simply place the fruit inside a paper bag, loosely close the top and keep it at room temperature for a day or two. As peaches and nectarines ripen they give off a natural hormone called ethylene. The paper bag traps the ethylene close to the fruit, while still allowing for the exchange of air into and out of the bag. Plastic bags will not work and can cause off-flavors in the fruit.

REMEMBER, NEVER PLACE FIRM PEACHES OR NECTARINES IN THE REFRIGERATOR. This can cause a type of damage called "internal breakdown." If you've ever had a dry or mealy peach, you've experienced "internal breakdown" and it's caused by storing fruit at the wrong temperatures. This can happen in your home refrigerator or at your grocer store. Once fruit is soft and gives to gentle palm pressure, it may be stored in the refrigerator for several days without damage. That's really all there is to it!


Baked Stuffed Nectarines

Other recipes from Produce Pete.


| WNBC Segments | WCAU Segments | Recipes | What's in Season | Ask Produce Pete |
| Farmacopeia | Gift Baskets | Gift Ideas | Biography |

all contents Produce Pal Prod.©