Nectarines are a subspecies of peach, but hairless. When eaten raw, they have a slightly stronger flavour and a tangier kick than peaches. Their flesh is very juicy too - the name is derived from the Greek word nektar, meaning sweet.
There are many varieties of nectarine but the season for each may only last a week. Nectarines can be cling-stone or free-stone/slip-stone, but unfortunately you can't tell from the exterior. The flesh ranges in colour from white to orange-yellow. Size is no indication of quality of flavour, but those of late summer will generally taste better
These stone fruits are best used raw, or in dishes such as grilled nectarines which only require brief cooking. Serve them as a starter plate with parma ham, sprinkled with olive oil and black pepper. Mix them with red berries and serve doused in chilled sparkling wine. Or add them to a pot of spiced fruits flavoured with mace, cloves, ginger and chilli and serve alongside baked ham