PRODUCE MADE SIMPLE ASKED THE EXPERT: Phil Tregunno, Niagara region peach and nectarine farmer
Until now, it’s been a bit of a mystery; what are the differences between peaches and nectarines – other than peach fuzz? To answer this perplexing summertime question, Produce Made Simple went to Phil Tregunno. As a peach and nectarine farmer in the Niagara, Ontario region for over 40 years, he’s certainly an expert! His fruit is sold through Vineland Growers, and he is also the chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Board.
Genetically, peaches and nectarines are nearly the same; the main difference is that peaches have fuzz. However, over the years peach farmers have naturally crossbred their peaches to make them less fuzzy, so peaches and nectarines have become aesthetically even more similar!
When it comes to texture or mouthfeel, nectarines are slightly firmer than their fuzzy counterparts. This has given the misconception that they’ve been cross-bred with plums, which they are not. Much like peaches, nectarines can be clingstone or freestone, as well as white fleshed or yellow fleshed. Some say that nectarines are more aromatic than peaches, which may explain why they’re named after the floral scent of nectar.
While most of us are familiar with different varieties of apples or pears, most don’t realize that we grow about 30 different varieties of peaches in Ontario in order to have local peaches from mid-July to the end of September. Harrow Diamond and Garnet Beauty are both early peaches with great flavour. A few of the major varieties grown in Ontario are Redhaven which has a terrific taste and ripens the first week of August, as well as the star series that follows it through the season including Redstar, Allstar, and Coralstar. Typically, later season peaches tend to be larger.
When it comes down to it, local Ontario peaches and nectarines are both delicious and can be used interchangeably in recipes!