What's the Difference Between Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots?
These summer stone fruits are more alike than they are different.
Summertime comes along and brings a bounty of fresh summer stone fruit, notably, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. All of these fruits are similar in color and shape. So what's the difference between these seasonal delicacies? Truth is, they have a good bit in common, but a few key factors set them apart. Keep reading to learn the difference between these fruits, and more importantly, how to cook with them.
The Difference Between Peaches and Nectarines
It's no wonder we get these two summer fruits confused — they're almost identical genetically. The main difference between the two is peaches have a fuzzy coating, while nectarines are completely smooth without any coating. This difference is due to a gene variant between the two fruits.
Peaches originated in Asia and were later cultivated in North America. Nectarines were born out of an effort to breed heartier varieties in California in the 1940s and '50s.
So, what does all this mean for cooking? For the most part, peaches and nectarines can be used interchangeably. However, the signature fuzzy skin on peaches can get tough when cooked, which is why it's often removed before baking or use in jams. Nectarines on the other hand have a thinner skin, making them better when you don't want to go through the extra effort of peeling.
The Difference Between Peaches and Apricots
The main physical difference between peaches and nectarines vs. apricots comes down to size. Apricots are only about a quarter of the size of a peach. But they resemble peaches in that they have fuzzy skin and similar shape and color.
However, apricots are an altogether different species than peaches and nectarines. 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.
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 and texture, apricots, peaches, and nectarines can all be used interchangeably in recipes, although nectarines and peaches sub more easily for one another than apricots.
Keep in mind that if you're substituting apricots for peaches or nectarines, you may have to add slightly more liquid, sugar, and fruit to your recipe to accommodate for their small size and low levels of sugar and water. Whatever summer stone fruit you reach for this summer, there are endless possibilities from jams, desserts, salads, smoothies, and more.