What's the Difference Between Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots?

These summer stone fruits are more alike than they are different.

The summer season brings a bounty of fresh stone fruit, notably peaches, nectarines, and apricots. All of these fruits are similar in color and shape and taste great. So what's the difference between these seasonal delicacies? While these familiar-looking fruits have quite a bit in common, a few key factors set them apart.

Keep reading to learn the difference between these summer stone fruits and, more importantly, how to cook with them.

The Difference Between Peaches and Nectarines

It can be easy to get these two fruits confused since they're almost identical genetically. However, the main difference between peaches and nectarines is a visual modification due to a gene variant between the two fruits. The outside of a peach is covered in a fuzzy coating, while nectarines are entirely smooth and fuzz-free.

When it comes to cooking, the signature fuzzy skin on peaches can become tough when cooked, so it's often removed before baking or used in jams. On the other hand, nectarines a thinner skin, making them better when you don't want to go through the extra effort of peeling.

Peach, nectarine, and apricot on teal background
Allrecipes Illustration

The Difference Between Peaches and Apricots

Peaches, nectarines, and apricots all belong to the rose family (as do apples, pears, and almonds), but while peaches and nectarines are the same species, apricots are not.

The main physical difference between peaches and nectarines and apricots comes down to size. Apricots have a similar shape, color, and fuzzy skin as peaches but are only about a quarter of the size.

In terms of taste, apricots aren't as sweet or juicy as peaches and nectarines due to their lower sugar and water content. They also have a bit of tartness due to their levels of malic acid.

Can You Substitute One for the Other?

Despite the differences in taste, texture, and size, apricots, peaches, and nectarines can all be used interchangeably in recipes.

Keep in mind, that if you're substituting apricots for peaches or nectarines, you may have to add more liquid, sugar, or fruit to your recipe to accommodate for their smaller size and lower levels of sugar and water.

Whatever summer stone fruit you reach for this summer, there are endless possibilities from desserts, salads, smoothies, and more.

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