Whether you prefer a peach, its soft, velvety skin warmed by the sun, a few chilled plums eaten messily over the sink, or a bowl of freshly washed vibrant red cherries, now is the time to enjoy stone fruits. August is peak season for drupes — a.k.a. stone fruits — and orchards, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores alike are practically bursting at the seams with them.
Technically speaking, a drupe is a fruit in which the seed is ensconced in a hard, stone-like pit, and — along with fruits from the Prunus family (plums, apricots, and nectarines to name a few) — also rather unexpectedly includes olives, pistachios, and almonds. But usually, when people refer to drupes, they’re really just talking about stone fruits. And these juicy summery gems aren’t just delicious, they’re packed with nutrients and unexpected benefits, so with drupe season upon us, let’s take a look at all they have to offer.
Plums: Plums and prunes (their dried alter-egos) have been the subject of much research as of late due to the fact that they contain high levels of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants have been shown to prevent oxygen damage to fats, and the plum’s particular brand of phenol effectively neutralizes a dangerous toxin known as “superoxide anion radical.” No small feat. For that virtue alone, we should all be eating more plums, but if you need more convincing, they’re also filled with fiber, and vitamin C.
Cherries: If you have trouble sleeping or are finding yourself jet-lagged, you might want to up your intake of this ruby-red fruit. That’s because cherries contain high levels of melatonin, which helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycle). Try eating a handful of cherries before bed, or even better, make this Moon Tonic to get a restful night’s sleep.
Apricots: Rich in beta-carotene, which helps to protect your eyesight, and vitamin C, Apricots are also an amazing source of catechins (the same phytonutrients that make green tea so good for you). Catechins help to reduce inflammation, which in turn helps to regulate blood pressure.
Peaches: Referred to as “the fruit of calmness” in Hungary, the natural sedative present in peaches can actually help relieve anxiety and, like cherries, can help you get a more restful nights sleep. Along with helping you keep your cool, peaches are also filled with fiber, which keeps you feeling full, and are low in calories, making them an ideal between-meal snack.
Nectarines: Like apricots, nectarines are also a rich source of beta-carotene, which gives them their bright orange-red color. They’re also filled with fiber, which helps with digestion, and are an amazing source of potassium, aiding in overall bodily function.
Aside from their numerous benefits, my favorite thing about stone fruits is how interchangeable they are in cooking. You can grill them, bake them, broil them, stew them — basically add them to anything and the final product will be delicious.
Here are a few recipes to try out!
Do you have a favorite stone fruit recipe? Let us know in the comments!