Stone fruit season runs from June through September, so we are right in the heart of growing season. In general, stone fruits are any fruit with a large pit.

The strict definition of a stone fruit is one that has that large, center pit and is part of the rose family. Popular stone fruits include:

peaches
plums
nectarines
cherries
apricots

Stone fruits are loaded with health benefits! They’re packed with fiber and nutrients like potassium, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin K.

HOW TO STORE STONE FRUITS

The key to soft, juicy stone fruits that last is proper storage. Where you store depends on the stage of ripeness your fruit is at:

Unripe stone fruits should ripen on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.

Ripe stone fruits will keep for a couple of days on the counter. If you don’t think you’ll get to them in a day or two, move them to the fridge in a plastic bag.

Very ripe stone fruits should go into the fridge, where the cold air will slow the process down, so you can avoid an overripe piece of fruit. Stick them in a plastic bag, so they won’t get dried out.

HOW TO COOK WITH STONE FRUITS

Of course, these succulent fruits are delicious as-is, but sometimes it’s fun to mix things up and cook with these summer beauties. Here are some fun ideas for how to cook with stone fruits.

1. Grill them

Grilling brings out the natural sweetness of your stone fruits. Grill them on high heat for just a few minutes, to caramelize some of the sugars and give them those inviting grill marks. They’re delicious on their own or with a scoop of good, home-made vanilla ice cream!

2. Stew them

Albanians traditionally used to make stewed stone fruit in the summertime, and we looked forward to it every year. It was so good over ice cream, a slice of cake or stirred into oatmeal. You can also use stewed fruit as a sweet condiment for savory dishes.

3. Use them in smoothies

Cherries are probably the favorite stone fruit to add to smoothies, but any ripe, stone fruit will add richness and a sweet touch to your next smoothie. Just throw 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sliced stone fruits into the blender with a little bit of water or milk to get things moving, some greens or shredded carrots, and ice, and you’re fine. You can mix things up with add-ins like a little bit of fresh ginger or a tablespoon of cocoa powder.

4. Make preserves

Very ripe stone fruit is perfect for preserving. You don’t even need a lot of sugar to do it! Just toss together four cups of sliced stone fruit in a large bowl with a tablespoon of sugar and 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar.

Let the fruit soften for about 20 minutes, then simmer in a frying pan on the stove until you reach a jam-like consistency.

In a frying pan, you have more surface area for the water to cook off, so it only takes about 15 minutes to cook ripe stone fruits into preserves that will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator./AgroWeb.org