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Nectarine: A Smooth Peach?

Commonly showcased side by side, nectarines, and peaches are very similar. What is the difference between these two stone fruits that look and taste comparable to each other? The two main differences between nectarines and peaches are the skin and size. Nectarines are smooth-skinned, and peaches are covered with fuzzy skin. This is perfect for people who do not like the fuzzy texture. The nectarine is also visibly smaller than the peach. In addition, nectarines are firmer, sweeter, and juicier than peaches. They also have a distinct aroma and a more pronounced flavor than a peach.

It’s a common misconception that a nectarine is a cross between a peach and a plum. Nectarines are not a hybrid fruit. They are peaches that lack the gene for fuzz. The nectarine and the peach are actually the same species. This difference is due to a gene variant between the two fruits.

There are more than 150 varieties of nectarines. They come in two main categories, yellow-fleshed and white-fleshed. White nectarines contain more sugar and less acid, creating a pleasant sweet flavor. Yellow nectarines are slightly tangier with more acid and less sugar. For clingstone varieties, the flesh of the nectarine will cling to the stone or pit, making it more difficult to remove. Freestone or cling-free nectarines separate easily from the pit, making it easier to pull out once the fruit is sliced in half. Freestone types are preferred for eating fresh and clingstone for canning and jams.


California nectarines are available from late April through late August. Almost all of the nectarines available are in California. Chilean Nectarines are available from late December through early March.


One medium-sized nectarine contains about 65 calories. As with all fruit, nectarines contain a variety of nutrients. A nectarine is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, niacin, and potassium, and an excellent source of vitamin C.


Nectarines do not ripen once picked. The best way to pick nectarines is with your nose! They will have a sweet, strong aroma. It will get softer and juicier after it has been harvested but not sweeter.

Look for fruit that is firm but gives in slightly to pressure along the seam. Nectarines are delicate and bruise very easily. Do not purchase nectarines with a green color on their skin, which signals the fruit was picked too early. An underlying yellow color is an indicator of ripeness; however, the red blush results from sun exposure. Avoid blemished, bruised, or wrinkled nectarines.


Eat ripe nectarines within a few days. Store unripe nectarines at room temperature until ripe. To speed up the ripening process, place nectarines in a paper bag and store them at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Check twice a day. You can put ripe, unwashed nectarines in a loose plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge to extend their life for up to five days. Bring them to room temperature before eating to enjoy their flavor.


Wash nectarines before eating, serving, or cooking them. One pound of nectarines yields about 3 cups sliced or 2 cups pureed. Nectarines can also be substituted for peaches or apricots in recipes.

Nectarines don’t need to be peeled. However, if you want to remove the skin, bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water heats, cut an X into the bottom of each nectarine. Drop the nectarines into the boiling water and cook just until the skin begins to loosen, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain the nectarines and then plunge them into ice water to stop them from cooking further. Remove the skin. To remove the pit, use a paring knife to cut the nectarine along the seam and around the seed. Twist to separate the halves.

Cut fruit browns quickly when exposed to oxygen, causing discoloration. You can stop sliced nectarines from turning brown by adding an acidic element to the fruit immediately after you cut them, such as lemon juice, fresh pineapple, or a commercial anti-darkening agent made for fruit.

So, other than eating a nectarine with its sweet-scented juice dripping down your hand, how else to use them? In cakes, crepes, pies, tarts, cobblers, crisps, yogurts, puddings, dips, sauces, jams/jellies, drinks, salads, and salsas, marinates, sautéed on the side of grilled meat, grilled, in ice cream, and compotes.

Flavor Partners

Nectarines have a flavor affinity for almonds, apricots, cherries, cream, ginger, honey, pistachios, plums, pork, poultry, soft cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, and walnuts.

Do you eagerly await peach and nectarine season every year? The peak season for nectarines is short – July and August, so eat them while you can during the warm summer days to satisfy your craving!

Written by Vicki Hayman, MS, University of Wyoming Extension Nutrition and Food Safety Educator


  •, Produce for Better Health Foundation, SNAP-Ed, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, USDA
Whole and cut fresh nectarines on white background

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Extension Educator:
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming Extension

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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