What's in season: When it comes to peaches and nectarines, there’s not much distinguishing the two aside from the outer texture of the fruit — fuzzy versus smooth — as the two are so closely related. Taste them side by side, and you’ll notice the fruits have subtle differences in sweetness, acidity and fragrance, depending on the specific varieties of each. Fully ripened, they have a rich perfume and deep coloring and will give slightly under pressure. A number of varieties of each are showing up at stands now, including early white Spring Snow peaches, known for their low acidity, and flat freestone Sauzee Queen peaches, along with sweet Z-Fire yellow nectarines. Depending on the variety of the fruit and the location of the farm, peach and nectarine season can last into early fall.
What to cook: Peaches and nectarines are classic summer dessert flavorings, turning up in fruit pies, cobblers and cakes. Turn a bag of ripe fruit into a batch of preserves or jam, or freeze them in an ice cream flavored with a hint of cinnamon or almond extract. The fruit also works well on the grill or sliced and added to salads or puréed as part of a cold soup.