Last Updated: June 1, 2021
As a sunny island situated near the equator, fruits grown in Singapore are limited to tropical varieties such as durians, rambutans, and mangosteens. Despite that, we are still able to savour an array of seasonal fruits imported from around the world. I have to agree that it does get a little confusing when a peach and a nectarine are placed side by side on the display counter. Stone fruits are indeed difficult to tell apart, and as such, in this part of our Produced Explained series, we will be looking into 7 common stone fruits that we all ought to know.
Probably the most delicious signs of summer, stone fruits are often in season mid to late summer as the weather warms. Also known to many as drupes, these sweet treats usually have a hard pit in the centre (hence represented by the word ‘stone’ in their name) and are surrounded by juicy soft flesh. Now let’s dive deeper into the world of stone fruits, shall we?
Originated in China and then spread Westward through Asia to the Mediterranean countries and later to other parts of Europe, peaches are considered to be one of the most popular stone fruits found in markets.
The flesh may be white, yellow, or red and depending on its variety, they may be freestone (pit that separates easily) or clingstones (pit that adheres firmly onto the flesh). The skin of most ripe peaches are fuzzy and as such, may lead to an allergic effect to those who are sensitive to the fuzz.
Peaches are nutritious and may offer an array of health benefits, including improved digestion, smoother skin, and allergy relief. In addition, they’re packed with antioxidants, a beneficial aspect of the plant compounds that combat oxidative damage and help protect your body against ageing and disease. Usually, the fresher and riper the fruit, the more antioxidants it contains.
Peaches tend to have soft, juicy flesh when they ripen. Thus, they are great for grilling, or adding to cobblers and pies. The longer they are cooked, the more moisture is extracted, as such, timing is of utmost importance when cooking such stone fruits.
Price: From S$6.95 per 500g
Cousin of peaches, nectarines also come in white and yellow varieties and can be freestone, clingstone, or semi-freestone. Appearance, texture and scent can be identified to differentiate between nectarines and peaches. Unlike peaches, nectarines have smoother skin. Not only are they more aromatic, they also have a firm texture similar to that of an apple.
Nectarines contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, which gives them their yellow-red colour. The body can turn beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is needed to support the normal function of the immune system and the health of our skin and our eyes.
Nectarines also contain folate, needed for healthy red blood cell formation.
A nectarine’s skin is a little thinner, and therefore better for crisps or tarts. Since they don’t have fuzzy skin, you won’t have to go through the extra step of peeling them before cooking. Furthermore, nectarines also retain their shape and texture better than peaches when exposed to heat.
Price: From S$8.50 per 500g
Plums are stone fruits that were first grown in China. They were eventually brought to Japan, the United States and certain areas of Europe, resulting in over 2,000 varieties grown throughout the globe.
Unlike the other stone fruits within the same family tree, plums offer much more variety. When it comes to size and colour, plums can be purple, yellow, orange, and red and can also be both large or small.
Plums have a long growing season from spring through early fall, giving us plenty of time to savour their goodness. Like other stone fruits, they are rich in antioxidants, which are helpful for reducing inflammation and protecting your cells from damage by free radicals.
Besides that, these fruits are also particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants, which have positive effects on bone health and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies have also shown that plums contain more than twice the amount of polyphenol antioxidants as other popular fruits, such as nectarines and peaches.
Plums have thin, smooth skin, and extremely juicy flesh making them great additions to salads and yoghurts. Many also consume them in their dried form as are said to be good for relieving constipation.
Price: From S$6.95 per 500g
Although they are originally cultivated in China, apricots today are produced throughout many temperate regions around the world especially in the Mediterranean. Although these stone fruits resemble the look of peaches and nectarines, they tend to be smaller in size, with a tart flavour similar to that of plums and prunes.
Identified by their bright orange-yellow skin, apricots (although not as fuzzy as peaches) have a furry surface that might cause allergic reactions to some. Thus, although they can be eaten with their skin on, many choose to remove their skin before consumption.
Although apricots are packed with vitamins and contain catechins as well as flavonoid phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory benefits, they are also high in natural sugar content. Thus, they should be consumed in limited amounts especially in their dried form.
Tart in flavour with a rich and creamy texture, apricots tend to be popular for making jams or drying, as their skin is rich in pectin—a compound that is added to jams and jellies that result in their thick consistency. Besides that, like most stone fruits, ripe apricots are perfect for baking.
Price: From S$6.50 per 300g
Readily available from June to August, cherries are cute little stone fruits that originate in Europe and Western Asia. Despite the hundreds of varieties, they can be simply categorised into two main groups—sweet or tart. Sweet cherries are usually eaten as they come, while tart cherries are used more in cooking.
Dubbed as one of the healthiest superfoods, cherries are considered to have the highest medicinal value because they are rich in antioxidants and are also a good anti-inflammatory. They are also one of the few fruits that contain melatonin, a compound that can help treat insomnia, making them great late-night snacks for a good night’s sleep.
This vibrant red fruit is a great blend of sweet flavours with a tingle of sourness. Sweet cherries are often recommended to be eaten raw while tart cherries make for a better ingredient for cooking cakes, tarts, pies, and cheesecakes.
Price: From S$7.80 per 280g
Native to India and Southeast Asia, although mangoes do not possess a large pit, they are also classified as stone fruits. Cultivated for over 5,000 years, there are now more than 100 types of mango, each with its unique taste, shape, colour and texture.
High in fibre, folic acid, and Vitamins A and C, mangoes can be eaten in both their ripe and unripe state. Ripen mangoes will give off a sweet scent and tend to be heavier than unripe ones. Although sweet fruits like mangoes can have a lot of sugar, these are natural sweeteners that can be balanced out by fibre and a host of nutrients for the body.
Due to their sweet nature, mangoes make for great snacks eaten as it is. Ripened mangoes tend to have softer and juicier flesh and as such, are not often used in cooking or baking. Many cuisines also make use of unripe mangoes to create salads due to their tart taste and crunchy texture.
Price: From S$3.50 per mango
Many of us tend to classify raspberries and blackberries as berries due to their name and appearance. However, they are in fact aggregates of drupelets or clusters of small stone fruits bunched up together.
Native to Europe and Northern Asia and cultivated in temperate areas worldwide, although these little stone fruits are available in different varieties and come in various colours, red raspberry is the most commonly found variety around the world.
Raspberries are harvested only during summer and fall and have a relatively short shelf life. As such, they are best eaten shortly after purchasing.
Known to many as a superfood, raspberries contain strong antioxidants such as quercetin and gallic acid, which helps to fight against cancer and circulatory diseases. They not only provide potassium which is essential to heart function but are also proven to contain a mineral called manganese, which is necessary for healthy bones and skin and helps regulate blood sugar.
Raspberries are a small, sweet fruit with a tart undertone. When frozen, they make for a good addition to a summer-inspired berry smoothie. Otherwise, they are also a great addition to yoghurts and ice creams in its fresh and raw form.
Have a bunch of raspberries that have been sitting in your refrigerator for slightly too long? Then consider cooking them down to create your very own homemade raspberry jam!
Price: From S$6.40 per 150g
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