Serious About Stone Fruit Season

By Carolyn Stine June 26, 2019 

From the farmer’s market back to your own kitchen, here’s all the know-how on maxxing out this stone fruit season.

Stone fruit season. You know what that means. An abundance of luscious peaches, juicy plums, ripe cherries, and perfectly picked apricots. Also known as, our favorite time of the year for fresh fruit. We’re even sometimes known to not make it home from the farmer’s market without starting to demolish our stone fruit haul en route (whoops). With July 4th on the horizon, and stone fruit season in full swing, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to this special species of fruit - how to buy it, when to buy it, how to keep it fresh AF, and how to make the most of it in our very own kitchens. That is, if we don’t eat it all first...

So what is stone fruit, any way?

Stone fruit is, quite literally, fleshy fruit with what’s known as a “stone” inside, which encases the seed. Stone fruit includes cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and one of our personal favorites, the pluot (a delicious hybrid of a plum and an apricot).

When and Where to Buy

Stone fruit is the quintessential summer fruit, with peak season being the high summer months of July and August. It is best purchased, forever and for always, at your local farmer’s market. This will guarantee that it’s fresh, local, and most importantly, in season. So pack up your favorite reusable grocery bag (we love this gingham bag and this organic cotton bag) and get shopping

Yes, you can find a peach at your grocery store in December, but that doesn’t mean you should purchase it then. When you find off-season fruit as mass grocery retailers, it means that the fruit was grown far away, traveled longer and father to get to you, and most likely was in cold storage, which means that’s the flavors won’t be as ripe and juicy. We say, stick with local in-season stone fruit for the most authentic flavor, to support your local farmers, and to shop with the environment in mind.

How to Buy Stone Fruit

Here are our top three rules to abide by when you’re in the market for stone fruit:

Imperfect is good. Heard of the Imperfect Produce movement? It’s all about utilizing the produce out there that may not be picture-perfect or symmetrical, but which is delicious nonetheless. About 40% of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten, so we’re a big fan of not shopping for “perfect” stone fruit when the craving hits. What you do want to do is ensure that there isn’t major bruising or cuts on the surface that will make your stone fruit spoil more quickly (and attract those dreaded fruit flies).

The sniff test. When it comes to deciding what to buy, definitely follow your nose with stone fruit. A juicy, fragrant aroma will let you know that the stone fruit is ready to eat. However, if you’re not ready to eat that peach just yet, it’s ok to buy when not yet ripe and let them ripen at home. You’ll notice a much more subtle scent on the fruit that is not ripe just yet.

Freshly squeezed. Another great hack for knowing if the stone fruit you’re eyeing is ready to be scooped up is to go ahead and pick it up in your hands. Give it a gentle squeeze - if it’s ripe, it will feel responsive to your touch. If it’s not yet ripe, it will feel harder. Just beware that you’re not squeezing hard enough to bruise the fruit, and note that if it feels too soft and squishy, it’s probably a sign that the fruit inside is overripe. 

How to Store Stone Fruit

The rule of thumb for stone fruit is not to store it in the refrigerator, with the exception of cherries (those can go right in the crisper). Stone fruit can be left on the counter until it’s ripe and ready to be enjoyed, just make sure that it’s not getting too much sun exposure. If your stone fruit is looking like it’s ripening too quickly for your taste, you can put it in the fridge for a day or so to slow it down. On the contrary, if you need it to ripen more quickly, try putting it in a brown paper bag and leaving it on the counter overnight. One note for anything that you store in the fridge is to make sure to bring it to room temperature before eating, as the cold dulls those beautiful flavors.

What to Make With Your Stone Fruit

Best Breakfast

Get your summer mornings off to a gourmet start with a bowl of barley porridge with honeyed plums. The porridge gets a spicy kick from cardamom, and the softly poached plums are the perfect topping for this not-too-sweet breakfast treat.

Let Them Eat Cake

As perfect for the sweet bite at the end of a dinner party as for a family picnic, we love that everyone gets their own with these mini apricot cakes. You can use your usual muffin tin for these, and the look of the fresh apricot quarter on the top of each cake is seriously Instagram-worthy.

Grills Gone Wild

There is something absolutely irresistible about fresh peaches charred on the grill, in all their juicy glory. The pair perfectly with rich ham, toasted pistachios, and bright rosemary in this dish, which can be served as an app, or on top of a bed of arugula for a romantic date night at home.

Better Than Jam

Sweet and savory, but equally in-season, collide with this incredible tomato and nectarine chutney. It is bursting with flavor from the sweet fruit, bright vinegar, brown mustard seeds, and a hint of garam masala. Try it on toast for breakfast, or served alongside a hearty cheese before dinner with seeded crackers.

Cocktail Hour

It’s been a while since we sampled a cocktail that combined literally all of our favorite ingredients. Not only is this sangria refreshed with seasonal stone fruit (there’s peach, apricot, AND nectarine in there), but it’s mixed with rosé and elderflower liqueur for a bright summer finish.

Dessert is Served

Clafouti is one of the most under-rated summertime desserts, in our recipe book. And this one just so happens to be studded with cherries fresh from the farmers market. A clafouti is a soft tart baked in a buttery crust, with the fruit nestled in a bath of custard-y batter. It’s best served warm, dusted with powdered sugar, with extra freshly whipped cream on the side (and more cherries for posterity).

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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