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STONE FRUITS


The stone fruits are those which includes the following fruits and they are the drupes of genus Prunus.


Apricot

The apricot originated in northeastern China near the Russian border, not in Armenia as the scientific name suggests. It did arrive in Armenia after moving through central Asia, which took about 3,000 years. The Romans brought it into Europe through Anatolia about 70 BC, with the name "a praecox," significant of its earliness . While English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World, most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish Missionaries. Turkey provides 85 percent of the world's dried apricot and apricot kernels today.

Medicinal and non-food uses

Cyanogenic glycosides (found in most stone fruit seeds, bark, and leaves) are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. The drug laetrile, a purported treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. As early as AD 502 apricot seeds were used to treat tumors and in the 17th century apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers. Seeds of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet that they may be substituted for almonds. Oil expressed from these varieties has been used as cooking oil.


Cherry, sweet, sour, and wild species

A cherry is both a tree and its fleshy fruit, a type known as a drupe with a single hard pit enclosing the seed. The cherry belongs to the family Rosaceae, genus Prunus (along with almonds, peaches, plums, and apricots).

Sweet and sSTONE FRUITSour cherries are different species, P. avium and P. cerasus, respectively. Both species originate in Europe and western Asia, with major commercial orchards extending from Iberia east to Asia Minor; they are also grown to a smaller extent north to the British Isles and southern Scandinavia.

As well as the fruit, cherries also have attractive flowers, and they are commonly planted for their flower display in spring. Some flowering cherry trees (known as 'ornamental cherries have the stamens replaced by additional petals ("double" flowers), so are sterile and do not bear fruit. They are grown purely for their blossom and decorative value. The Japanese sakura, in particular, is a national symbol celebrated in the yearly Hanami festival.

Cherries have a very short fruiting season. In Australia, they are usually at their peak around Christmas time, and in the UK they are generally ready for picking in early summer. Annual world production (as of 2003) of cherries is about 3 million tonnes (one third are sour cherries).

Cherry blossom is sometimes eaten by the larva of the Green Pug moth.


Plum

In the variety of the plum, there are several domestic and wild species; dried plums are called prunes.

A plum is a stone-fruit tree in the genus Prunus. Its fruit is sweet, juicy and edible, and it can be eaten fresh or used in jam-making or other recipes. Plum juice can be fermented into plum wine; when distilled, this produces a brandy known in Eastern Europe as Slivovitz. Dried plums are known as prunes. Prunes are sweet and juicy, and they have a very high dietary fiber content, so prune juice is often used to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system. It also contains several antioxidants that may slow aging. Prune marketers in the United States have, in recent years, begun marketing their product as "dried plums", because "prunes" has negative connotations of being unappetizing, and suitable only for the elderly.

Plums come in a wide variety of colours and sizes. Some are much firmer-fleshed than others and some have yellow, white, green or red flesh, with equally varying skin colour.


Peach

This is of the normal and white variety and its variant the nectarine.

The peach is a tree, Prunus persica, and the juicy fruit that it bears, which has a single large seed encased in hard wood (called the pit or stone), yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma, and a velvety skin. Peaches, along with cherries, plums, and apricots, are stone fruits (drupes). Cultivated peaches are divided into freestone and clingstone varieties, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the pit; both kinds can be any color. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with little acid flavor, while yellow-fleshed peaches typically have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness. Both colors often have some red on their skin. Low-acid white-fleshed peaches are the most popular kinds in China, Japan, and neighboring Asian countries, while Europeans and North Americans have historically favored the acidic, yellow-fleshed kinds.


Nectarine

The nectarine is a variant of peach that has a fuzzless skin. Though grocers treat fuzzy peaches and nectarines as different fruits, they belong to the same species. Nectarines have arisen many times from fuzzy peaches, often as bud sports.

Nectarines can be white, yellow, clingstone, or freestone. Regular peach trees occasionally produce a few nectarines, and vice versa. Nectarines are more easily damaged than fuzzy peaches. The history of the nectarine is unclear; the first recorded mention is from 1616 in England, but they had probably been grown very much earlier in central Asia.

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