What Is a Stone Fruit, Exactly?
Whether you know it or not, you’re probably very familiar with stone fruits. But what exactly are stone fruits? Here’s what you need to know:
What Is a Stone Fruit?
A stone fruit, or drupe, is a type of fruit that contains one large “stone” or “pit.” The stone itself isn’t the seed, though it’s commonly misidentified as one. The actual seed is found inside the stone.
The thin-skinned, fleshy fruits are often sweet in flavor.
Common stone fruits are peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, and apricots.
Stone Fruit vs. Berry
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Here’s where things get confusing: Many fruits we think of as berries (blackberries, raspberries, and cherries) are not berries at all—they’re actually stone fruits.
A berry is a fleshy fruit with many seeds inside (blueberries, tomatoes, oranges, grapes, etc). Berries have a fleshy endocarp (inner layer) and mesocarp (middle layer).
A stone fruit or drupe, meanwhile, is a fleshy fruit with a hard pit inside which contains a single seed (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, etc). Drupes have a fleshy mesocarp but a tough, leathery endocarp.
So where does that leave avocados? Believe it or not, since the avocado is fleshy throughout, it is a berry.
Stone Fruit List
Stone fruits you may be familiar with include:
Clingstone vs. Freestone
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All stone fruits can be classified as either freestone or clingstone.
Freestone fruits have a stone that can be easily removed from the flesh, as the two are not attached.
Clingstone fruits have stones that cannot be easily removed from the flesh, as the two are attached.
You’ll encounter these classifications most often with peaches.
Clingstone peaches are best in early summer and are often smaller and sweeter than their freestone counterparts. These are best when the natural, unaltered flavor is allowed to take center stage. Eat fresh clingstone peaches as a snack or use them for canning or preserving.
Freestone peaches, which are typically larger and juicier than clingstones, are best in late summer. Use these for pickling, grilling, or otherwise cooking.
Stone Fruit Allergy
If you’re allergic to stone fruits, you’ll typically notice symptoms of a reaction shortly after eating the fruit. The most common symptoms of a stone fruit allergy are itching and swelling of the face, mouth, lips, tongue, and throat.
More severe allergies affect the respiratory system or digestive symptom and can cause cough, vomiting, rash, or runny nose.
Most of the time, stone fruits that have been cooked or canned don’t cause a reaction in people who are allergic.
However, people with severe allergies may experience anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the airways, throat, or tongue that can cause breathing difficulties, dizziness, fainting, flushed skin, hives and itching, low blood pressure, nausea or vomiting, and a quick or weak pulse. Anaphylaxis is extremely serious, and should be treated immediately.
Stone Fruit Season
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For most stone fruits, peak season is summer.
How to Store Stone Fruits
Store stone fruits in the fridge only once they are fully ripe—otherwise you’ll end up with a mealy mess.
If your fruit is not yet ripe, store it on the counter (ideally away from sunlight). Putting it in a paper bag can trap the ethylene, which may speed up the ripening process.