Summer means a lot of things to different people. To some, it’s the time of sun and heat avoidance at the beach. To others, it means summer vacation. And to others, it means getting a taste of the real world with summer internships. But to me, summer means it’s the season of stone fruits (fruits that have pits).
There’s nothing quite like walking through the store and seeing mounds of peaches, plums and apricots. But which of these is the best? It’s the ranking you’ve all been waiting for.
Nectarines can be polarizing. Some people hate them, and others are wrong. This is the bottom of the stone fruit barrel, and it’s not particularly close.
When you’re not biting into a nectarine to discover an already-broken pit, you’re still finding the peak of semi-ripe disappointment (there’s no such thing as a ripe nectarine). You’ll think, why aren’t I just eating a peach? Instead, you’re stuck with a weak excuse for a peach, just without the fuzz.
Honestly, it’s painful to call cherries “stone fruits.” They taste great, but it’s antithetical with the spirit of what it means to be a stone fruit.
It’s like calling Seth Curry an NBA player, or calling Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig’s Lifetime movie a film. Both are technically true, but it’s hard to call either of them one of the greats in their category. The same is true of cherries.
At this point, it’s already incredibly difficult to create rankings. These next few options all occupy a spot in the top tier of stone fruits.
Apricots — which would place first in the dried fruit rankings — and I have a long past. When I was three years old, I entered a feud with my babysitter for refusing to give me an apricot.
But could you blame me? When it’s the right amount of ripe, this fruit is the perfect balance of sweet, smooth and juicy.
In an upset, peaches — perhaps, the emblematic example of a stone fruit — come in at number three. Peaches are both held back and propelled by that inexplicable fuzziness. Sure, it’s weird, but it keeps you coming back like that kid with the Tootsie Pops keeps going to the damn owl.
Peaches (note: not the musician) are everything nectarines are not. They’re consistent. They’re juicy. Peach translates perfectly to peach-flavored foods and drinks — seriously, how is peach vodka vaguely fuzzy?
Better grab a napkin, cause these definitely get messy. Despite that, though, plums are near the top. Plums, which are one of the first fruits to be domesticated by humans, are honestly good enough to sustain a whole fruit diet — there are somewhere between 19 and 40 species of plums
And just about every one of them is great. But make sure not to try all of them at once — it’s not just prunes that make you poop.
Pluots are one of many plum-apricot hybrids, along with apriums, apriplums and plumcots (my personal favorite). These combinations are just about never too sour and never too sweet. They’re the best of both worlds, combining two members of the stone fruit pantheon, so it’s natural that these hybrids would find themselves in number one.
Stroll down to your neighborhood grocery stores — especially Berkeley Bowl — to stock up on stone fruits before the summer ends.