Summer Stone Fruits
When we think of childhood summers in Australia, most people would remember some experience involving summer stone fruits. Perhaps it is the juice of sweet peach running down their little arms. Perhaps it is smiling big red smiles after an hour of sitting and indulging in yummy cherries on Christmas day.
Yep, summer stone fruits certainly bring with them a lot of nostalgic and “sweet” memories (pun intended!).
Throughout the year we enjoy our citrus varieties, and melons, pineapples, apples and pears, and more. But spring heralds a change and with it we see the berries and stone fruit varieties sharing their delicious goodness with us once again.
Stone fruits however, are different. Their short availability almost makes them feel like an extra special indulgent treat! On Christmas Day, our tables are laden with delicious peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums, heavily “garnished” with handfuls of plump cherries. Yum!
Interestingly, we seem to mentally associate stone fruits (aka “drupes”) with berries due to the time of year that they arrive on our shelves. Boysenberry, blackberry, even loganberry and mulberry are something that we don’t often get to enjoy at other times of the year in Australia.
Then there is the traditional favourite, the humble strawberry. Showing up around September, they are available through to Summer. BUT, who would have thought it, strawberries are not actually a berry! We generally associate a berry as being a small juicy fruit. However the technical definition differs, and berries are actually “any kind of fruit that is fleshy, and produced from a single ovary in a flower where the outer layer develops into a fleshy edible portion”. This means that tomatoes, watermelon and even bananas are technically a berry! Um, ok. This also means that strawberries, botanically speaking, are known as an “aggregate” or “accessory” fruit. Well, we all know that the best outfits always have perfect accessories to match, don’t we?
But, there is another bone of contention among fruit lovers, and the question is often asked are avocados a stone fruit (drupe)? Of course we all know that the “king of fruit” is a stone fruit/drupe, right? Wrong! The avocado is indeed, a BERRY!
The formation of an avocado is actually from a single ovary in a flower and which results in a fleshy, edible portion of fruit to enjoy.
If that wasn’t a “mind blown” moment, let’s confuse matters even more – blackberries, and raspberries are not berries at all and, are in fact, drupes! For brevity, and to avoid overwhelming you with all of this new “juicy” information (yep, another pun!), you can read more about the botany of drupes and berries by visiting the Botanist In The Kitchen.
So let’s look at this again – strawberries are not a berry, but an “aggregate fruit”, bananas, tomatoes and grapes are berries and avocados are not a stone but a berry? It seems that summer stone fruits are not only delicious but confusing too!
We’ll leave that one right there for you to think while indulging in your favourite juicy Christmas treats.