Sweet and juicy, peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries are some of the many joys of summer – enjoy them fresh, baked, stewed or grilled.
Ripe nectarines and peaches should give a little when gently squeezed, while plums and cherries should look plump and fresh.
Keep ripe fruit in the fridge, and bring to room temperature before eating. To freeze, lightly poach or purée first, as the fruit quickly turns brown once cut.
Stone fruit is incredibly versatile, and can be used in salads, chutneys, pies and purées. If cooking, a little sugar will help to bring out the flavour of the fruit.
You can find British varieties of these purple-skinned plums in store from August. Eat them straight from the fruit bowl, try them cooked in a spiced chutney or enjoy with roast duck.
Plump and glossy with green stalks, cherries have a sweet, tart flavour. They’re great teamed with rich ingredients, such as chocolate – check out our Chocolate cherry cheesecake recipe.
A recessive gene is responsible for nectarines – peaches without the fuzzy skin. To speed up ripening, store hard nectarines in a paper bag until softened and fragrant.
Enjoy velvety-skinned peaches as they come, or use them to make cobblers, tarts or a purée for a Bellini cocktail. They also go well with savoury ingredients, such as cheese.
With a sweet, slightly honeyed flavour, yellow plums are great for making pies and jams, or simply enjoy them raw. Choose golden fruit with a subtle orange-red tinge to the skin.
Meet the expert: Max Bach, Tesco stone fruit producer
Tell us a bit about your job
I’m the commercial director at Blancasol, a fruit-growing business in Murcia, south-eastern Spain. We’ve been producing fruit here for 25 years, and we supply Tesco with apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. We have around 500 hectares of stone fruit orchards.
Why is Murcia suited to growing stone fruit?
We have a hot, dry climate with lots of sunshine and high-quality soil. During the summer, temperatures are around 30°C, although they can get as high as 45°C. It rarely rains, so we use a drip irrigation system to ensure our trees get the moisture they need.
How do you harvest the fruit?
It’s hand-picked from the field. We never use machinery for this delicate job. Once picked, the fruit is stored in the shade and transported as soon as possible to the packing house. Once there, we carry out quality control tests, and then the fruit is put in cool storage before being loaded onto trucks, ready for their next destination.
Do you have a favourite stone fruit?
I love the sweet flavour and fuzzy skins of flat peaches [look out for this variety in store]. I’m always tasting fruit when it comes in from the fields because it’s important that I know what the customer will receive – and I enjoy it, too!
Stone fruit works wonderfully in beautiful bakes, such as our Peach custard tart.
As featured in Tesco Magazine July/August 2015.