These two fruits look the same, they taste very similar, so are they the same thing?
The Short Answer
No, Nectarines and Peaches are not the same.
The Long Answer
“Do you want a nectarine or a peach?”
“What’s the difference?”
This is a conversation I’ve had and have heard many times. As a lover of peaches, it’s a subject I’ve always been curious about. After all, a nectarine is practically identical to a peach, save for its smooth texture. So, they have to at least be related, right?
Yes, they are related, but they’re not the same fruit. Before we get all scientific, let’s dive into the differences between the two.
The main difference is texture. Peaches are fuzzy. They have that layer of fuzz coating them while nectarines are completely smooth. Nectarines are usually smaller than peaches and firmer. They’re also more susceptible to diseases like brown rot and bacterial spot.
So why are they different?
It all boils down to genetics. *Puts on my lab coat and glasses*
Nectarines are likely a genetic mutation of the peach. In order for a tree to produce nectarines it must receive a recessive gene from both parents. This is similar to blue eyes and blonde hair in human beings. If both parents don’t have the gene, you don’t get that recessive characteristic. When you cross breed two nectarine plants you’ll always get a nectarine. Peaches can have the nectarine gene but might not produce one when crossbred.
Both peaches and nectarines can come in yellow and white varieties. Both also have the potential to be clingstone, where the pit clings to the fruit’s flesh, or freestone, where the pit pulls away more easily. These characteristics are also genetic.
When used in cooking, the two are practically interchangeable, with the difference in flavor being negligible. There are some who believe that nectarines are a bit sweeter than peaches, but I’ve never personally found this to be true.
Are you a peach fan or a nectarine supporter? What’s your favorite recipe that involves these fruits?