Some southern Illinois orchards will be booming with stone fruits, including peaches and cherries. But because these fruits along with apricots, plums, and nectarines prefer warmer climates without as much risk for a spring frost, they may be few and far between in Illinois backyards. Nonetheless, they should not be forgotten, and if you find a local source, hold on to it!
The name, stone fruit, comes from their stone-like pits inside. Stone fruits may be classified as clingstone, where the flesh adheres to the pit, or freestone, where the flesh is easily removed from the pit. The many different peach varieties are classic examples of clingstone and freestone fruit. While messy, clingstone peaches can be eaten out of the hand and make good jams or preserves since perfectly cut slices are not necessary. But a freestone peach is better for freezing or canning slices and make snacking a little less sloppy. Nectarines are similar to the peach in both taste and looks, however, they lack that "peach fuzz" on their skin. Apricots are also similar but are less juicy than peaches.
Cherries are either sweet or sour. Surprisingly, sour cherries make perfect cherry pies, due to their ability to hold their shape better when baked. Plus, the amount of sweetness can be adjusted in the recipe. Sweet cherries are delicious to snack on and can also make a good sauce to serve over meats or desserts. Plums can also be sweet or tart and can range in color from purple to yellow. Plums pair well with chicken, pork, arugula and spices such as ginger, vanilla and cinnamon. All of these stone fruits make perfect summer treats!
Grilled Peaches Printable PDF
6 peaches, halved and pitted
Brown sugar, to taste
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (optional)
Heat grill to medium high heat. Lightly brush flesh of peaches with oil. Grill peach halves cut-side down for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, turn over peach halves and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Grill for 1-2 more minutes. Remove from grill. Serve two peach halves in bowl and top with vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon.
*Can use most any type of fruit: pears, apricots, pineapple, apples, plums, bananas
Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional analysis per serving (with ½ cup low-fat frozen yogurt): 110 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, 2 gram fiber, 10 milligrams sodium
Smith, a registered dietitian, is a nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.