Stone fruit, also termed as stonefruit, actually refers to drupe. Drupes are fruits with a hard stone-like shell surrounded by a fleshy part. Each drupe fruit has four major parts; skin, fleshy body, hard stone and an inner seed. Fruits like plum, cherries, nectarines, peach, apricot, mango and almonds are a few examples of stone fruit.
Terminology and Types of Stone Fruit
The term stone fruit is considered synonymous with drupe or genus Prunus. The term stone fruit was first used to refer to unripe, hard pears which were thrown at heretics (the persons who disobey church authority). This was when stones were not available. There are two types of stone fruits: freestone fruit and clingstone fruit.
Freestone fruit – It is a type of stone fruit in which the flesh can be separated from the stone with ease. Some varieties of cherry, peach, apricot are types of the same. Freestone varieties are used to make whole canned fruits in syrup or pie fillings.
Clingstone fruit - It is the type of stone fruit in which the flesh is tightly attached to the seed. The fruit needs to be cut to remove the stone. Such fruits are used to make jams are preserves.
Varieties of stone fruit
Apricot is classified as a stone fruit. It is most susceptible to bruising and damage. It needs a warmer climate to grow and it matures during the summers. Turkey, Iran and Uzbekistan are the leading producers of Apricot.
Uses – The fruit is consumed as such. Dried apricot is very popular in Turkey and over the years, it has gained popularity all over the world. The apricot kernel is used to make a sweet good called persipan. Apricot oil is also made using the kernels.
There are three main types of cherries. Sweet cherries, sour cherries and tart chokecherries. Sweet cherries are the ones which are consumed as such. Sour cherries are used to make preserves, pie fillings and sauces. Chokecherries are dark in color and juicy; they can be eaten raw or preserved as pie filling or sauces. The optimal season for cherries is summers. Turkey, United States and Iran are the main cherry cultivating countries.
Uses – Cherry is consumed as it is and also preserved cherry pie fillings are very popular. Cherry preserve can also be made.
Peach is a fruit of a deciduous tree native to China. Nectarines and Peacherines are both grouped under the peach category. Nectarines have a smooth skin whereas peacherines have a velvety skin. China, France and Iran are the major peach growing areas in the world.
Uses – Peach can be consumed as it is. It can also be preserved by using canning technology. Jams, jellies, preserves are made from peach pulp.
Health and Nutritional Facts
All stone fruits share a common health benefits; they are a rice sources of coloring compounds like anthocyanins present in cherries which help to prevent inflammation and also reduce risks of cancer. Beta carotene is present in abundance in peach and apricot which acts as an antioxidant prevents free radical damage.
Selection and Buying of Stone Fruit
· Stone fruits are available in most of the supermarkets all over the world.
· When selecting a fruit, one must check the following parameters :
1. The fruit should be firm and the outer layer should be free from bruises.
2. It should be free from any infestation and diseases.