What do olives, lychees, raspberries and nectarines all have in common (other than being delectable)? They’re all stone fruits!
If you’ve ever wondered, “what kind of fruit is this?”, FruitStand is here to help. You see, fruits are divided into four categories: citrus (lemons, yuzu), berries (blueberries, tomatoes), pomes (pears, loquats), and of course, stone fruits (apricots, peaches). There are all kinds of scientific reasons for each of them, but in short, just about all fruits will fall into one of these four types.
Let’s learn more about stone fruit!
Stone fruits are also known as drupes, which, botanically speaking, means the fruit’s flesh surrounds a single, hard pit. Stone fruit pits are made of a hardened shell, or endocarp, that contains an inner seed.
The pit can be easily removed, as in an apricot, or may be more intricately connected to the fruit, like in the large pit of a mango. These stoney seeds can be persnickety. In fact, stone fruit pits are further classified as clingstone, freestone, or semi-freestone. These indicate just how easily the pit is removed. This tough pit is often inedible and, like peach and cherry pits, can be poisonous if consumed. The most popular exception to this is the coconut, a stone fruit that is enjoyed for the flesh of its inner seed.
Did you know that raspberries, mulberries and blackberries aren’t berries at all? They’re actually considered stone fruits! Each little “berry” is made up of clusters of teensy stone fruits, all of which have tiny, edible seeds in each of their bulbous compartments. Some people love the added crunch from the seeds of these not-berries, while others endure them because they’re so dang delicious.
Stone fruits are a diversely delicious bunch, with fruit that comes in all different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Sometimes the skin of stone fruit is thin and tasty like a plum, other times it’s leathery and inedible like a lychee. Yup, lychees are stone fruits, too! Peaches are known for their blush-colored, fuzzy skin, yet plums are a reddish, deep purple with a slick shine. Olives have a single pit and savory flavor while blackberries have tart sweetness and many tiny pits.
Have we mentioned the nutritional benefits of stone fruits? Enjoyed by fruit geeks and nutrition fans the world over, stone fruits are both tasty and nutrient packed. With the exception of richer stone fruits like olives and coconut that contain fat, they’re known to be relatively low in calories. They’re generally loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium. Their fiber density gives them a reputation for improving digestive health and contributing to lower cholesterol.
While the iconic peach is a symbol of summer, these drupes come into season through different times of year. Spring brings loads of cherry varieties, apricots and plums. Lychees appear in the late spring. Blackberries, mulberries and raspberries explode from their thorny shrubs in the summertime along with nectarines and other stone fruit hybrids like pluots. Olives are harvested in the early fall, and coconuts are available year-round.
For produce with such soft flesh, stone fruit sure is an ironic moniker. Whether you’re grilling them or enjoying these dainty drupes directly from the branch, we hope you enjoy the softer side of stone fruits all throughout the year!
Visit the FruitStand blog for easy and delicious recipes using seasonal stone fruits. If you need more stone fruit in your life, join our FruitStand Facebook Group for tips, tricks and fellow fruit fans.