Have you ever bitten into a peach so juicy that the juice drips down your chin? Or a plum so sweet it’s almost like candy? If so, you’ve enjoyed the deliciousness of stone fruits.
What are stone fruits? Also known as drupes , these are fruits that contain a pit or stone surrounded by edible flesh.
Some of the most popular ones are peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and cherries. The summer season just wouldn’t be the same without their vibrant colors and flavors.
Whether you like to bake them in pies and tarts, grill them for a savory treat, or simply enjoy them raw by the handful, these fruits are a warm-weather favorite.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common stone fruits.
How to Tell When a Stone Fruit is Ripe
The best way to tell if a stone fruit is ripe is by gently squeezing it. If it yields slightly with gentle pressure, it’s ready to pick. Here are a few other signs your pit fruit is ripe:
- The fruit will become slightly soft, and the skin may wrinkle.
- The color will deepen and become more vibrant.
- It will have a sweet aroma.
- Moreover, it may twist or snap off the branch easily when ripe.
- With some fruits, the stem end of the fruit may also start to separate from the branch.
List of Stone Fruits
With such a variety of delicious drupes in the world, you may never run out of options to eat year-round.
Peaches are deliciously sweet stone fruits, perfect for summer. Their fuzzy, orange-pink, or yellowish-orange skin and juicy flesh make them a tasty snack or ingredient in desserts.
There are two main categories: freestone and clingstone. Freestone peaches have pits that easily separate from the flesh, while clingstone pits cling tightly to the flesh.
Popular freestone varieties include Red Haven, Elberta, and Loring. Popular clingstones include Flavorich and June Gold.
Nectarines are one of the most delectable pit fruits. With their velvety, fuzz-free skin and honeyed flesh, nectarines seem like peaches that have been polished to perfection.
Biting into a ripe nectarine may feel like an indulgence, but these fruits are nutritious as well as delicious.
Plums range from sweet to tart and come in a variety of colors. There are many species of plums grown worldwide. Some of the most common types are:
- Santa Rosa: Reddish-purple, juicy, and sweet. Most popular for eating fresh.
- Damson: Small, tart plums primarily used for preserves and flavoring gin.
- Greengage: Round green plums that are very sweet when ripe .
- Mirabelle: Small, yellow plums with a honey-sweet flavor. Popular in France.
With this range of sizes, colors, and flavors, there’s a plum for you. Whip some into a plum crumble or chutney for a classic dessert.
Cherries are one of the most beloved fruits, with pits or seeds in the middle.
Their sweet, juicy flesh and pit in the center define them as fruits with stones. Cherries come in two types: sweet and sour.
Apricots are one of the earliest summer fruits. Their yellow-orange, velvety skin envelopes a sweet flesh that clings to a single seed.
Enjoy these fruits with a tangy-sweet flavor and almond-like pit however you like.
Dates grow on graceful date palm trees with large fronds and clusters of oval, deep red to bright yellow fruit. Their sweet, sticky flesh has been enjoyed for centuries in the Mediterranean region.
Bite into a date, and you’ll find a single seed in the center, surrounded by rich, caramel-like flesh. Dates are nature’s candy and a perfect portable snack.
Stuff them with fillings like almond butter or wrap them in bacon for an appetizer. Blend it into a chutney or mostarda to serve with meats like lamb or duck.
Mangoes originate from India and Southeast Asia, so they grow best in hot, humid climates. However, some varieties can also thrive in warmer, temperate regions. Their sweet orange flesh and tropical flavor make them irresistible.
The mango tree can grow over 100 feet tall and produce fruit for over 40 years. Mangoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, from greenish-yellow to orange and red.
Inside, the soft flesh surrounds a large seed. Mangoes are ready to eat once they yield slightly to pressure and have a fruity aroma.
Enjoy mangoes fresh or in smoothies, salsas, chutneys, and cocktails. They pair well with sticky rice, oatmeal, yogurt, and other fruits.
Mangoes are also high in vitamins A, C, and antioxidants , so indulge in these exotic delights without guilt.
Lychees are exotic stone fruits native to southern China.
These round or oval fruits have a rough, pinkish-red, leathery skin and juicy, translucent white flesh surrounding a hard seed. The sweet flavor of lychees is reminiscent of grapes and strawberries.
Peel off the bumpy skin to enjoy lychees raw. They also work well in fruit salads, drinks, and desserts. Ripe lychees will have a slightly springy feel when squeezed.
Olives are one of the oldest pit fruits cultivated by humans.
Originally from Asia Minor , olives have been grown in the Mediterranean region for at least 6,000 years. It has been an important part of Italian cuisine and culture for ages.
Olives grow on small olive trees and come in a variety of colors while ripening. Olives can be eaten as a snack, used in salads, pasta, pizza, or tapenade (an olive spread), or pressed to make olive oil.
Almonds are nut-bearing fruits with pits. Their oval, edible seeds are actually the almond nut that many people enjoy eating.
Almond trees need a long, slightly hot growing season to produce their fruit, so they are well-suited to the Mediterranean and some western United States climates.
Mulberries are sweet, blackberry-like fruits that grow on small to medium deciduous trees.
Known for their deep purple to pinkish-red berries that stain hands and clothing, mulberries come in both sweet and tart flavors. The fruit resembles an elongated blackberry and has a mild but pleasant flavor with just a hint of acidity.
Blackberries are sweet, juicy compound drupes that grow wild throughout much of the world. They are made up of small drupelets and are a favorite summer treat for humans and wildlife alike.
Blackberries grow on vines or bushes that can reach up to 6 feet high. The plants require full sun and well-drained, acidic soil.
Once established, blackberry bushes produce fruit for 15 to 20 years or more if properly pruned and cared for after harvesting.
Raspberries are an aggregate of drupelets. They are edible and juicy, with each berry containing a tiny pit. Raspberries grow on prickly shrubs that require plenty of space.
Coconuts are large stone fruits with a fibrous husk and an inner seed.
They grow on coconut palm trees and are common in tropical regions. The coconut palm can reach up to 100 feet tall and produce 60 to 100 coconuts per year.
Coconuts provide food, drink, and shelter for people in tropical areas. They are also commercially important crops, producing coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut water.
You now know about some fruits with stones and what they are all about. Keep an eye out for these delicious fruits at your local farmer’s market or grocery store.
Whether you call them rock fruit, pebble fruit, or drupes, there’s a perfect stone fruit for everyone.