Adam Calder, Produce Manager

The smell is usually what people notice first. Is that lofty, heady scent from the peaches or the nectarines? Are the plums the ones giving the air that slightly grassy tang, or is it the apricots? Is it the white peaches that bring to mind a fresh cut rose, or is it the white nectarines?

It is nothing short of amazing that fruits with a hard stone heart could weep such sweet, tantalizing aromas, but nature ups the ante even further with the intense flavors and tastes behind those scents.

A stone fruit is any fruit with a stony pit in its center, such as peaches, plums, white nectarines, pluots, apricots, white peaches, nectarines, donut peaches and, to a certain degree, cherries. Cherries are included in my list of stone fruits as they have a similar seasonal availability of other stone fruits (late spring through early summer) and they do have a hard pit, albeit a very small one. Unlike other stone fruits, cherries require refrigeration to maximize their shelf life. All other stone fruits should never be stored in the refrigerator; this causes the fruit to become mealy.

Mealy fruit is fine for cooking, but for fresh eating it is best to store the fruit at room temperature and to use it within a couple of days of bringing it home. At the co-op, stone fruit we get on Monday is gone by Wednesday, we get a new delivery on Thursday and by Sunday that fruit is gone to make way for more the next day. We never go more than three days between deliveries, so our stone fruits should always be fresh enough to have excellent quality and also never be so old that they will be over-ripe and ruined a day after you get them home.

If you do have some stone fruits that are just too ripe to eat, but you don’t want to waste them, then you may want to try this recipe. The recipe calls for peaches, but any stone fruit will do.