In response to consumer demand for sweet fruit, California growers have increased plantings of new varieties of what are being marketed this season as Summerwhite peaches and nectarines.
Summerwhite peaches and nectarines may be the sweetest items consumers take home from their grocery stores this summer. Though they typically are paler by comparison, Summerwhite peaches and nectarines are often sweeter than their yellow counterparts and provide extraordinary flavor for desserts and other recipes.
Summerwhite peaches and nectarines have been available for more than 30 years; however, it was not until the past few years that American consumers began to embrace their unique flavor.
The Facts Behind the Taste
The reason these summer sensations often taste sweeter than traditional yellow nectarines and peaches all boils down to sugar and acid levels. The overall acid content of Summershite peaches and nectarines tends to be lower than yellow varieties with some having very little acid at all. Because there is little acid to get in the way of sugars, the fruit tastes sweeter.
Yellow peaches and nectarines gradually sweeten as the acid level drops, but Summerwhite fruit tastes just as sweet right after it is harvested as it does when it has softened.
On the inside, Summerwhite peaches and nectarines are light pink or whitish with bright pink radiating from the center or pit, rather than the orangish-yellow color found on traditional varieties. Splashes of florescent pink accent the fair skin of Summerwhite fruit; while typically, red and yellow tones are found on outside of most other peaches and nectarines.
Picking the Cream of the Crop
When selecting ripe Summerwhite peaches and nectarines, look for skin with a creamy white background and no hint of green. Like traditional peaches and nectarines, the amount of red or pink will differ with each variety, but has no bearing on the ripeness.
Sumerwhite peaches and nectarines ripen much quicker than yellow varieties. If placed in a paper bag, Summerwhite peaches and nectarines ripen twice as fast - in about a day. Therefore, they should be checked often for softness.
Cooking with Summerwhite fruit can be a bit tricky if a consumer is not familiar with its high sugar levels. When preparing dishes that call for uncooked fruit, Summerwhite peaches and nectarines can be treated in the same manner as yellow, although they provide a uniquely sweet burst of fruit flavor and aroma. They work equally well cut and tossed in a salad or sliced over ice cream. However, if a recipe calls for cooking, be careful, because Summerwhite fruit has a tendency to fall apart when heated. They also become softer during baking, but still can be used to bake pies or cobblers. When a recipe requires poaching, all Summerwhite peaches and nectarines need are moistening in warm liquid. Rather than sauté or stew, Summerwhite fruit only requires a gentle toss in the pan over low to medium that to add a zesty sweetness to vegetables, meat or a rich, warm dessert.
Although Summerwhite peaches and nectarines have been available for more than 30 years, renewed interest among consumers and growers will mean increased production in future years. In 1996, the white peach category represented 5.5 percent of the total California peach crop and white nectarine varieties accounted for 2.5 percent of the total crop. Currently, most of the production is sold to overseas markets, particularly the Pacific rim, where consumers favor a sweeter piece of fruit. Still, with more varieties being planted each year in California, Summerwhite peaches and nectarines will become more prevalent in the U.S.
Baked Stuffed Nectarines
Other recipes from Produce Pete.