Summer fruit: peaches and nectarines

4th January 2022 | Eativity editors
Summer fruit: peaches and nectarines

Stone fruit is a celebration of everything that makes an Australian summer great. But stone fruits like peaches and nectarines aren’t just a delicious treat served up by an overly indulgent Mother Nature who’s been mellowed by the sultry, warmer days. They’re also incredibly good for you. Especially when they’re in season, which is right now.

Stone fruits are an amazing source of antioxidants,” says Susan McLeod, a nutritionist and lecturer in Human Nutrition at La Trobe University. “They’re full of vitamins A, C and E, which are all antioxidants. These run around and clean up the free radicals which you don’t want in your body, because they can cause damage to cells.”

A lot of the antioxidants in stone fruit come from their gorgeous hue. Stone fruit is rich in phytonutrients, which gives fruit and vegies their bright colours. This is an excellent reason to eat the skin. The brightly coloured skin contains flavonoids, a type of phytonutrient which plays a protective role in the body. As well as helping to inhibit oxidation and neutralise free radicals, flavonoids can also help to reduce inflammation.

That gorgeous red hue is a sign that nectarines contain nutrients aplenty.

Sweet but saintly

Because peaches and nectarine are so exquisitely sweet, some people mistakenly believe they’re a dietary no-no, thinking that they must be too high in sugar to be good for you.

“Stone fruits generally contain about six or seven grams of sugar per serve,” McLeod says. “Yes, that’s high. But if you’re only eating the recommended two servings of fruit per day – say, two apricots and a mango cheek – that’s okay. You’re not getting a lot of sugar.”

If you’re only eating the recommended serves of fruit each day, the other health benefits of peaches and nectarines will actually outweigh that small amount of natural sugar.

What you are getting plenty of is fibre, which is so important for a healthy gut. Orange and yellow peaches and nectarines are also high in beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that plays a role in eye health. Peaches and nectarines also contain potassium. And here is another wonderful example of a benevolent Mother Nature. Potassium is an electrolyte, which our bodies need to regulate nerve and muscle function and keep us hydrated. You lose electrolytes through sweat, which makes potassium in summer even more important.

“It’s almost like Mother Nature is saying, ‘Here you go! This is what you need in summer’,” McLeod says. “So, while stone fruit is in season, I say make the most of it.”

Ondine flat stone fruit is now being produced in Australia
Ondine flat stone fruit is now being produced in Australia.


Peaches originated in China, where they’ve been cultivated for thousands of years. The Chinese consider the peach to be a blessed fruit and a symbol of immortality and longevity.

Here in Australia, peaches have been produced since the 19th Century. They’re grown in every state. From the Granite Belt and Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Queensland, across NSW and down to the Goulbourn Valley and Mid Murray regions in Victoria. Further south in Tassie, they’re grown in the Huon Valley and the north east; in South Australia you’ll find peaches growing in the Adelaide Hills and Riverland region. In Western Australia, they’re grown in Dwellingup, Donnybrook, Manjimup and Perth Hills.

Australian peaches are available between October and April. When buying peaches, remember that they bruise easily. So look for smooth, unblemished fruit and handle them with care. Peaches will generally arrive in the market in a firm condition and will have flesh that crunches when eaten. As the fruit ripens, it will begin to soften and become juicier.

Summer fruit: nectarines
Victoria is our major nectarine producer, accounting for around 70% of total production.


Nectarines, or “nectar of the gods”, are a variety of peach with smooth yellow, orange or red skin. They have either white or yellow juicy flesh. Also originating in China some 4000 years ago, nectarines can either be eaten firm and crunchy or allowed to ripen to become soft, juicy and lower in acid. The fruit is also grown across all Australian states.

Australian nectarines are available between October and April. Yellow nectarines will reveal superior eating qualities when they yield slightly to gentle palm pressure. They can taste both sweet and tart. Meanwhile, their white counterparts are sweet when they’re still firm and crunchy. Both types will express more juice as the fruit softens. For most fruits, white speckles around the tip of the fruit are the best indicator of fruit sweetness.

For more information about peaches and nectarines, as well as info on other stone fruits and loads of recipe ideas, head to