Difference between: nectarines and peaches

Let’s check out these two tree fruits, with the difference between nectarines and peaches.

Definitions:

  • Peach: the subacid, juicy, drupaceous fruit of a tree, Prunus persica, of the rose family.
  • Nectarine: a variety or mutation of peach having smooth, downless skin.

The variation or mutation mentioned in the definition of a nectarine refers to the recessive gene that allows nectarines to be smooth, and peaches to be fuzzy. In short, that is the primary difference between nectarines and peaches.

As with recessive genes in human traits, both “parent” trees need to carry the recessive nectarine gene in order to produce a nectarine.

Both nectarines and peaches:

  • Have hundreds of varieties, some more tart or sweet than others.
  • Have the same leaves and flowers on their trees.
  • Can have the opposite fruit growing on their tree (peach on a nectarine tree, or vice versa).
  • Tend to have a yellowish orange color to them, with a red blush.
  • Are best when allowed to ripen on the tree.
  • Can be freestone or clingstone (the former has a loose pit that falls out easily when cut open, the latter has a pit that is harder to disengage).

Nectarines:

  • Have a smooth skin.
  • Tend to be bred smaller than peaches.
  • Are more susceptible to diseases such as brown rot and bacterial spot.
  • Surprisingly, are more nutritious (more on this momentarily).

Peaches:

  • Have fuzzy skin.
  • Are usually bred to be a little larger than nectarines.
  • Contain the same nutrients as nectarines, but less of them.

Everything I’ve read has maintained that nectarines and peaches are genetically the same, except for the fuzz factor. If you peeled them, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The variations in flavors, textures, colors, etc., is more dependent on the different types of each fruits and how they’re bred rather than an innate difference between the two.

How then is it, that nectarines are more healthful than peaches, containing a “slightly higher content of vitamin C, twice the vitamin A, and much more potassium?”

It’s a mystery of the food world. Perhaps, as with the various flavors and colors, they’re simply bred differently, and nectarines are bred to be more nutrient-packed.

On a related note, I recently received a comment on one of my very first Difference Between posts, the difference between zucchini and summer squash. My findings indicated that, other than color, the only difference between the two is that summer squash contains more seeds. 

A commenter informed me that he is horribly allergic to zucchini, but not to summer squash – there must be a more significant difference between the two than simply seeds.

Indeed, the nutritional content of foods can be highly complex. For instance, sometimes two foods can become more nutritious when consumed together – that alone just boggles my mind. 

In conclusion, a nectarine is a variation of a peach that does not have a fuzzy outer coating. And, for some reason, packs a more serious nutrient punch than a peach does.

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