Friday, January 27, 2012

Nectarine of the Gods

I've been ready to try a new fruit with my son for a while now, but nothing ever caught my eye at the store...until earlier this week!  Nectarines were on sale, which I found strange because they're not even in season yet in the US.  These, however, are Chilean, which explains why they showed up in my grocery so early!  Before I go on, I should make you aware that peaches and nectarines are one of the "Dirty Dozen", so organic is your best bet.

I also saw peaches in the store on the same day.  I almost bought them instead, but decided against it based solely on the price.  After all
"the only difference between peaches and nectarines is the lack of fuzz on the nectarine skin. Nectarines tend to be smaller and more aromatic than peaches and have more red color on the fruit surface."
Bottom line:  I bought the nectarines, knowing that the nutrition and cooking method would be identical to peaches, if and when they are the more inexpensive choice.  Peaches and nectarines are high in Vitamins A and C and a wonderful source of fiber (a great choice if constipation is an issue for your little one, since they're a natural laxative with a diuretic effect). They're an easy-to-digest food, making a great first food for a younger baby, and pair well with many other fruits and veggies if you're trying to introduce some not-so-popular flavors.  Frozen peach slices are also a great pain reliever for teething babies (just pop them in a teething pouch)!

While peaches and nectarines are easily steamed, baked, poached, or even served uncooked, baking seems to retain the most nutrients, so that is the method I used!  That said, excessive cooking lends a much less nutrient-dense fruit, so overcooking is not necessary or encouraged.

Step 1:  Wash fruit well, particularly if you didn't purchase
organic.  Halve the nectarines, leaving the skin on.  You may
pit them now or later, but I found the pits easier to remove
after cooking.
Step 2:  Place fruit, cut side down, in a baking dish with
sides.  Fill dish with an inch of water.  
Step 3:  Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes, or until fruit is
easily pierced with a fork.
Step 4:  Allow fruit to cool completely (trust me!).  Then,
using a spoon to get just under the skin, remove the peel.
Skin may also be left on and served to baby, as it's easily
digested; I removed half the skins and left the other
half in tact.
Step 5:  Use a fork and knife to cut the meat of the fruit
away from the pit.
Step 6:  Puree to desired consistency.  For me, six large
nectarines rendered 14 servings.

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