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A genetic variant of common peaches, the nectarine was most likely domesticated in China more than 4,000 years ago, and nectarine and peach trees are virtually indistinguishable. Nectarine is a medium sized deciduous tree with arching branches. It requires very cold winter-season followed by warm weather for proper development of buds.
White or pinkish-white flowers appear in early spring which develop subsequently into attractive fruits by June.Nectarines and peaches are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. It is believed to be a crossbreed between peaches and plums, or a "peach with a plum skin", nectarines belong to the same species as peaches.In contrast to peaches, whose fruits present the characteristic fuzz on the skin, nectarines are characterized by the absence of fruit-skin trichomes (fuzz-less fruit); genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele ; whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. Nectarines have red, yellow, or white flesh and are a source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The flesh is very delicate and easily bruised in some cultivars, but is fairly firm in some commercial varieties, especially when green. Nectarines can be white or yellow, and clingstone or freestone. On average, nectarines are slightly smaller and sweeter than peaches, but with much overlap. The lack of skin fuzz can make nectarine skins appear more reddish than those of peaches, contributing to the fruit's plum-like appearance . They are commonly eaten fresh or cooked in conserves, jams, and pies.
Nectarines may sometimes appear on peach trees as a result of the process of bud variation, or bud sporting, a vegetative deviation from the normal. Cultivation of nectarines is essentially the same as for peaches, with best results usually obtained on well-drained sandy or gravelly loams enriched with nitrogen. Nectarine season lasts from mid-June until the end of September. They can be kept at room temperature until they ripen or wrapped in a paper bag. Ripe nectarine perish early and should be placed inside the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before eating to enjoy their rich natural flavor. The fruit can be consumed raw along with its skin as in Apples. One can also cut the fruit into two halves and separate the pit (seed) using a knife. One can enjoy the fruit in a salad or as a dessert form. People enjoy the jams and jellies of this fruit. It is commonly used in baking of pies, crumbles, and tarts. They are great poached if they are slightly unripped.
The history of the nectarine is unclear. Peacherine is claimed to be a cross between a peach and a nectarine, and are marketed in Australia and New Zealand. The fruit is intermediate in appearance between a peach and a nectarine, large and brightly colored like a red peach. The flesh of the fruit is usually yellow but white varieties also exist.
Refrences taken from :- wikipedia, nutrition and you, webmed, bbcgoodfood.
(all the pictures are extracted from the internet)