Have you been noticing nectarines in the produce section of the grocery store? What do they look like to you? Do you know what they are? Since I had been noticing them in the store and purchased them a couple of times, I decided to find out what they really were. Someone had told me they were a peach/plum combination but I never knew for sure. They taste pretty much like a peach as far as I am concerned, and from the lack of recipies calling for nectarines, my thought is to eat them fresh or use just as you would a fresh peach!
This is what I was able to find, basically, a nectarine is a peach without fuzz! They are not a combination of a peach and a plum as some folks think. Nectarines have juicy, peach colored flesh and the seed is very similar to that of a peach. You can tell peaches and nectarines are similar because peaches are of the genus Prunus persica and nectarines are P. persica. They most probably originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. The word “nectarine” means sweet, as nectar, and this is probably the obvious origin of the name.
They are in season at this time, with the season beginning in early summer and lasting until fall.
And, interesting to note, peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, also, nectarine seeds may grow into trees that bear either nectarines or peaches. Since it is not possible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee a crop. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
Nectarines can be eaten out of hand just as you would a peach, they can be cut up and used in fruit salad, cooked, dried or however you want to serve them. According to one of the sources, they are delicious in ice cream and sorbet, as well as cakes and pies. There are about ten varieties that are widely grown for market. If you purchase nectarines, look for fruit that is firm but not hard, with a bright deep coloring. Avoid fruit with wrinkled skin or spots that could show evidence of decay. Hard nectarines will ripen at room temperature, to speed the process, place them in a bag with an unripe banana.
To peel them, cut an X in the bottom end and dip the fruit in boiling water, just as you would a peach or a tomato. Their smooth skin is edible, but most folks would probably prefer to peel them. The following two recipes are from my CD of “Chef’s Million Recipes”. There were only about five recipes in the file and part of them required either brandy or wine to make, and another called for both walnut and olive oil, so this is the only one left! You might be able to find more by logging onto “allrecipes.com” but I am not sure.
Sugarless Peach Apple Butter
3lbs peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and cut up, about 12 medium
1 can (12-oz.) frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
Place fruit and apple juice into a blender and puree; place in a 4-quart kettle or Dutch oven and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until consistency is very thick. Stir frequently to avoid scorching. Pour into jars and seal. (They say seal with paraffin, but it is better to use canning jars and seal with lids and rings; being sure the rim of the jar is clean before putting the lid on.)
1 box yellow cake mix
12 oz. diet soda (Sprite Zero® or your choice)
1 can crushed pineapple (16-oz size) (divided use)
1 large tub Cool Whip®, sugar free
1 large box of sugar-free vanilla instant pudding
Empty cake mix into large bowl, add diet soda and mix well. Then add ½ can of crushed pineapple and stir well. Pour into 9×12 pan that you have lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake as directed on package. While the cake is baking, mix the Cool Whip®, the remaining crushed pineapple and the pudding together and stir well. Chill thoroughly. When the cake has finished baking and has cooled, spread the Cool Whip® mixture over the top. Cut into squares to serve. Makes 12 to 15 servings.
Cherry Cheese Cake
2 packages (8-oz each) Crescent rolls
1 package (8-oz) softened cream cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 egg, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (21-oz) cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Unroll crescent dough, setting aside one-half can for decoration. Separate remaining dough into 12 triangles; arrange triangles in circle on 15-inch round baking pan with points toward center and wide ends toward the outside. Using lightly floured roller or lightly floured hands roll or press dough into 14-inch circle, pressing seams together to seal and leaving a 3-inch hole in the center. For filling: In medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth; using electric mixer. Spread cream cheese mixture over dough to within ½-inch of edges. Stir almond extract into pie filling and spread over the cream cheese mixture. Roll remaining dough into a rectangle 6-inches wide and 7-inches long and cut lengthwise into 12 strips. Twist strips and place in spoke-like fashion over filling. Press ends to seal at center and outer edges. Brush with lightly beaten egg white. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. For glaze: Mix together powdered sugar and milk until smooth and drizzle over cake. Serve warm.
The following recipe was on my granddaughter’s FB page last week and I decided to try it. I used one of the bags of “ready to cook” type of peeled, deveined shrimp that is available at most HEB stores. These are usually priced at $5 for a 14-ounce bag, and I used a couple of tablespoons of Zatarain’s crab/shrimp boil to cook them. Since the recipe calls for ‘cooked shrimp’, there is probably no reason you can’t use the ones that are already cooked and available in most grocery stores.
Shrimp and Avocado Salad
2 pounds peeled, deveined cooked shrimp, (If they are large shrimp, cut them in half lengthwise)
2 large avocados
2 tablespoons diced red onion
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, add the shrimp and cook until pink, drain well and set aside. Peel and cut avocados into large chunks into some lemon/lime soda to prevent darkening, drain well and add to shrimp. Dice the red onion and rinse under running water, drain and add to shrimp/avocado mixture.
Whisk together: olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder and Dijon mustard and pour over shrimp, stir gently to combine, chill before serving.