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Nectarines were grown in China 2000 years ago and made their way to the United States via the Spanish in the 17th century. Nectarine trees produce sweet fruit that is not only delicious but it is a nutritious source of antioxidant vitamins such as A and C, and they are a good source for potassium. Nectarines can be used in the same way as peaches. Genetically, the only difference between peaches and nectarines is the lack of fuzz on the skin of nectarines. Nectarines are usually a littler smaller than peaches, have more aroma, and have more red color on the skin.
Nectarines are mostly self-pollinating trees, which mean that a single nectarine tree can pollinate itself. Nectarine trees are fast growing and most will begin to produce fruit in 3 to 5 years after planting. The leaves and buds of nectarine trees look similar to peaches. The leaves are long, glossy, and bright green in color. The leaves reach a length of 4 to 9 inches and are lightly serrated. The trees are pretty enough to be very decorative in the landscape. The colorful spring flowers, the dangling fruits in the summer, and the red yellow foliage in the autumn are very pleasing to the eye.
There are more than 100 varieties of nectarines, in freestone and clingstone varieties. Freestone describes the ease of pit separation from the fruit, while clingstone types cling to the fruit and are more difficult to separate. Nectarines will keep for 5 days if stored in a plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Nectarines do not have to be peeled because they do not have the fuzz on the skin. Leave the skin on when making pies, cobblers and fruit salads.